Car crimes

Of households owning cars, 0.5 per cent stated that they were the exposed to car theft during 2015. During 2015, 13,200 takings of a car without consent (car thefts) were reported. During the most recent ten years, these offences (which are almost always reported) declined by 64 per cent. With respect to thefts out of and from vehicles, approximately 54,100 such offences were reported, which is a 3 per cent increase as compared with the preceding year.

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 2006 – 2015. Source: Reported offences

Reported offences

In 2015, 67,400 car crimes (taking a car without consent and thefts out of and from a motor vehicle) were reported, which is 1 per cent more than during 2014. Looking at both types of offences separately, the number of reported offences for taking a car without consent declined by 7 per cent, while thefts out of and from motor vehicles increased by 3 per cent. A total of 13,200 takings of a car without consent (the criminal classification of the offence of car theft) and 54,100 thefts out of and from motor vehicles were reported during 2015. Since 2006, the number of takings of a car without consent declined by 64 per cent, while the number of thefts out of and from motor vehicles declined by 49 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 2014, 13,400 takings of a car without consent were processed.¹ Of the processed takings of a car without consent, an investigation was commenced for 35 per cent (4,660), while 65 per cent (8,700) were dismissed with no investigation. Of the processed takings of a car without consent, investigation was limited in 2 per cent (298 offences), of which almost all (287 offences) were following commencement of investigation. There was at least one person registered as reasonably suspected for 14 per cent (1,900) of the processed takings of a car without consent. Of these, there were person-based clearances for 700 offences.

The person-based clearance rate² for car thefts in 2015 was 5 per cent, which is the same as 2014. Compared with ten years ago, the level has declined by 1 percentage point.

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, 2006 – 2015. Source: Persons suspected of offences

Persons suspected of offences

The number of persons suspected of taking a car without consent was 989 persons, which is 32 fewer individuals than 2014, or a 3 per cent reduction. The number has declined by 64 per cent since 2006. The number of persons suspected of thefts out of and from a motor vehicle increased by 17 persons (to 836 persons) or by 2 per cent, as compared with 2014. The number has declined by 59 per cent over the most recent ten years. The downward trend for the number of persons suspected of car theft corresponds to a reduction in the number of reported takings of a car without consent and thefts out of and from a motor vehicle.

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, 2004 – 2013. 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 351 convictions for taking and driving away during 2013. Compared with the preceding year, the number of conviction decisions of taking and driving away declined by 100, or 22 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 2004, the number of conviction decisions has declined by 951 decisions, or 73 per cent. The most common sanctions for taking and driving away are imprisonment, probation, and youth service.

Fewer car thefts among young people

Approximately one per cent of those questioned in the school survey Crime among year-nine youth in Sweden state that they have stolen a car; this is a 2.7 per cent decline as compared with the number who stated they had stolen a car in the previous survey in 1995. Further confirmation in the number of car thefts committed by young people can be seen from the fact that car theft is no longer the type of offence which best indicates a continued criminal career among young perpetrators.

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.