Pickpocketing thefts have increased by 40 per cent in one year in the inner city. Well organized international gangs are behind almost all cases. They are attracted to Sweden since it is easy to get into and penalty rates are low. But the increase is also due to increased access to valuables.
“For smart phones, we have seen an explosive increase,” says Gunnar Thun, superintendent at the Stockholm police, to public broadcaster SVT.
They have great second hand value. This is a large part of the explanation for the increase, there are more expensive items to steal,” says Gunnar Thun.
Pickpocketing is a hard crime to solve. There is rarely witness statements or good enough surveillance images. And if the police manage get a good lead, the thieves usually already have managed to leave Sweden at that time. The Stockholm police estimate that only one or two per cent of these crimes are ever solved.
Gunnar Thun believes that the gangs only tend to stay a few days in Stockholm. They work professionally and are always at least two when they carry out the theft.
“The approaches are renewed successively. The latest trick is that the pick-pocketer hugs the victim and is affectionate and maybe pretends to be a little drunk. But we also see classical methods like when someone "happens" to spill ketchup on the victim, and carries out the theft while helping to remove the stain.”
Since the cases are difficult to solve, the police hope that people become more aware and cautious instead. They believe that many crimes can be prevented if more people would carry their valuables in inside pockets.
Year Number of reported pickpocketing cases in Stockholm's inner city
2011 11 388