Car crimes

Of households owning cars, 0.5 per cent stated that they were the exposed to car theft during 2015. During 2016, 12,200 takings of a car without consent (car thefts) were reported. During the most recent ten years, these offences declined by 62 per cent.

Percentage exposed to car crimes

Percentage of households exposed to theft out of/from vehicles as well as car theft, 2006 – 2015 (car theft reported among households which owned a car during the relevant year). Source: NTU.

In the Swedish Crime Survey (NTU - Nationella trygghetsundersökningen), 0.5 per cent of households, corresponding to approximately 17,000 households in Sweden, state that they were exposed to car theft. This is an increase as compared with 2014, when 0.2 per cent of households were exposed. The percentage of exposed households has halved since 2006 (0.9%). In 2015, 2.4 per cent of households, corresponding to 100,000 households in Sweden, were victims of theft out of or from vehicles. This is a reduction as compared with 2014, when 2.6 per cent of households were exposed. During 2006 – 2010, the percentage of households exposed to theft out of or from vehicles decreased dramatically (from 5.0% to 2.8%), and has thereafter continued to decline, albeit at a slower rate.

Victimisation of different groups in respect of car-related offences

Persons who live in multiple dwelling blocks are exposed to car theft to approximately same extent as residents of detached or semi-detached dwellings (0.6% compared with 0.5%). This is also true in respect to theft out of or from vehicles (2.4% compared with 2.3%). In respect of theft out of or from vehicles, couples in households with children are exposed to car-related offences to a greater extent than couples or single persons in households without children and single parents.

Exposure to car-related offences varies, depending on the degree of urbanisation of the residential locality. In respect of car theft, residents of major metropolitan regions and other large cities are exposed to a somewhat greater extent than residents of smaller cities or rural regions (0.8%, and 0.5%, respectively, compared with 0.4%). Persons who live in major metropolitan regions are also victims of theft out of or from vehicles to a greater extent (3.2%) than residents of other large cities (1.7%) and residents of small towns or rural regions
(2.1%).

Circumstances surrounding car-related offences

The most common location stated for car-related offences is the owner's own residential area; between 53 per cent and 56 per cent of the offences are stated to have taken place there. In respect of the type of vehicle in conjunction with theft out of or from a vehicle, in most cases (79%), the victim states that the vehicle was a car. Vehicles such as mopeds and motorcycles are among the vehicles which are significantly less subject to such theft.

Car crime has decreased steadily since the 1990s, when the advent of electronic theft prevention devices in vehicles made it difficult to hotwire a car.

Theft out of and from vehicles has declined since the end of the 1990s. It is likely that part of the reduction is a side effect of the trend in car theft, since the offences are often committed simultaneously. The built-in car stereos of newly manufactured cars are impossible to steal; this was formerly a relatively common type of theft from vehicles.

Reported car crimes

Number of reported thefts out of or from motor vehicles, as well as taking a car without consent (car thefts) during 2007 – 2016. Source: Reported offences

Reported offences

In 2016, 63,500 car crimes (taking a car without consent and thefts out of and from a motor vehicle) were reported, which is 6 per cent less than during 2015. Looking at both types of offences separately, the number of reported offences for taking a car without consent declined by 8 per cent, while thefts out of and from motor vehicles declined by 5 per cent. A total of 12,200 takings of a car without consent (the criminal classification of the offence of car theft) and 51,300 thefts out of and from motor vehicles were reported during 2016. Since 2007, the number of takings of a car without consent declined by 62 per cent, while the number of thefts out of and from motor vehicles declined by 46 per cent.

Cleared car crimes

The person-based clearance rate² for taking a car without consent and theft out of or from a motor vehicle. Source: Processed offences

Processed offences

Car thefts are more reported than many other offences, which is, of course, a consequence of the fact that all cars are valuable and that insurance companies require a police report. Over 90 per cent of all stolen cars are found – at the same time, few car thefts are cleared.

During 2016, 12,200 takings of a car without consent were processed.¹ Of the processed takings of a car without consent, an investigation was commenced for 33 per cent while 67 per cent were dismissed with no investigation. Of the processed takings of a car without consent, investigation was limited in 2 per cent, of which almost all were following commencement of investigation.

The person-based clearance rate² for car thefts in 2016 was 5 per cent, which is the same as 2015. Compared with ten years ago, the level has declined by 1 percentage point.

During 2016, 51,200 takings of a car without consent were processed.¹ Of the processed takings of a car without consent, an investigation was commenced for 12 per cent while 88 per cent were dismissed with no investigation.

Persons suspected of car crime

Number of persons suspected of taking a car without consent (car theft) and theft out of or from a motor vehicle, 2007 – 2016. Source: Persons suspected of offences

Persons suspected of offences

The number of persons suspected of taking a car without consent was 22 per 100,000 population, a reduction of 9 per cent as compared with 2015. The number of suspects has declined by 54 per cent since 2007. The number of persons suspected of thefts out of and from a motor vehicle was 15 per 100,000 population, a reduction of 14 per cent as compared with 2015 . The number has declined by 54 per cent over the most recent ten years.

Persons found guilty of offences of car theft

Number of conviction decisions of taking and driving away as the primary offence, including aggravated taking and driving away, 2007 – 2016. Source: Persons found guilty of offences

Persons found guilty of offences

It is not possible to isolate car theft in the statistics of persons found guilty of offences; instead one must search on a legal designation which also applies to theft of other motor vehicles, for example motorcycles. A continuous decline over time can be noted in the number of conviction decisions³ for taking and driving away. There were 251 convictions for taking and driving away during 2016. Compared with the preceding year, the number of conviction decisions of taking and driving away declined by 20 per cent.

The decline for the year is a continuation of a long-term downward trend – over the past ten years – for conviction decisions in respect of taking and driving away. Compared with 2007, the number of conviction decisions has declined by 77 per cent. The most common sanctions for taking and driving away are imprisonment, suspended sentence, probation and youth service.

Thefts among young people

Approximately three per cent of those questioned in the School Survey on Crime 2015 state that they have either stolen a moped, motorbike or a car, or that they have stolen something out of a car in the last twelve months. In research, theft of motor vehicles is commonly regarded as one the major risk factors for a future criminal career.

¹) The statistic for processed offences reports the number of reported offences where the police, public prosecutor, or other investigatory authority has taken a decision regarding the offence.

²) Person-based clearance means that a person suspected of the offence has been tied to the offence through an indictment, the issuance of a summary sanction order, or the issuance of a waiver of prosecution. The person-based clearance rate reports the number of offences with person-based clearances during one year as a percentage of the number of processed offences during the same year. As from 2014, an adjusted person-based clearance rate is reported. The metric is essentially structured in the same way as previously, however, it is calculated based on all processed offences instead of all reported offences. The conviction rate reports the number of person-based clearances during one year as a per cent of all investigated offences, excluding offences with limitations of investigation during the same period.

³) The statistic regarding persons found guilty of offences reports the number of convictions which were issued during the year. "Conviction decision" means a conviction in a district court or decision of a public prosecutor, such as a summary sanction order or waiver of prosecution, during one calendar year. A single individual may be found guilty of an offence in different ways and on several occasions during one year. A conviction decision may contain decisions regarding several offences and several sanctions.