Fraud and vandalism increased the most during 2008

15 January, 2009
The amount of reported crimes increased by 5 percent in 2008 compared with the previous year. Fraud and vandalism contributed most to the increase.
The amount of reported crimes increased by 5 percent in 2008 compared with the previous year. Fraud and vandalism contributed most to the increase, whilst car crimes and pickpocketing show the greatest decrease. The percentage of bank and shop robberies saw a drastic increase during 2008.
1,372,000 crimes were reported to the police, customs, attorney general and the Swedish Economic Crime Authority during 2008 — which represents a rise of 5 percent (or 68,300 crimes) compared with 2007. The greatest increase in the volume of crimes reported is found in fraud and benefit theft, vandalism, and crimes requiring searches and controls, such as narcotics crimes and shoplifting. Altogether, these crimes increased by 67,700 reported crimes.

The types of crime that saw the greatest decrease in reported cases are car crimes, pickpocketing, bicycle theft and office break-ins, which together decreased by 25,500 cases of reported crime.

More reported internet fraud, less benefit theft

During 2008, there were approximately 106,000 reported cases of fraud, which represents an increase of about 52 percent over the previous year. Almost 40 percent of that increase is due to computer, internet, and credit card frauds; and around 35 percent of the increase is due to fake invoices and other unspecified frauds.

'Fraud has almost completely moved over to the internet environment. This is partly due to the fact that it is easy to reach a large number of victims; and partly because people in general still do not feel enough suspicion for nicely packaged fraudulent offers. Unfortunately the situation is in all likelihood even worse than the statistics show, since we know that there are many internet frauds that are never reported to the police', says Anders Ahlqvist at the IT crimes section of the National Criminal Investigation Department.

The amount of benefit theft, on the other hand, was reduced by 10 percent compared with the previous year. In 2007, special efforts were made to detect benefit theft — especially national insurance fraud, which made an impact on the statistics.

Reported incidents of vandalism continue to rise

Vandalism increased by 15,800 reported cases — about 9 percent — to a total of 195,000 incidents during 2008. Graffiti on public transport increased the most, with 35 percent more of such crimes being reported than in the previous year. Most reported cases of graffiti on public transport were in the Stockholm area — the county reported 90 percent of the total cases — which could be due to the fact that Stockholm Public Transport has a zero tolerance policy against graffiti and reports almost all cases to the police.

Vandalism is the second largest contributor to the rise in the number of reported crimes. An increase of 15,800 incidents during 2008 corresponds to almost a quarter of the total increase from all crime categories. Reported cases of vandalism have risen by 73 percent since 1999, and most of that increase has taken place in the last two years alone.

'Benefit fraud, vandalism, shoplifting and such are so-called "search and control crimes". The statistics are greatly affected by any special efforts that the authorities or businesses carry out to control and report those crimes. Rather than being a measurement for the development of crime, the changes within those categories for 2008 are a result of how active the authorities and businesses have been', says Jan Andersson, director general at Brå.

Sharp increase in bank and shop robberies

During 2008, 155 cases of robbery were reported against banks, the Swedish Cashier Service (Kassaservice) and postal centres — which, at a 125 percent increase, is far more than double the amount of incidents reported the previous year. Shop robbery also increased, with 1,010 crimes reported during 2008 — which is 199 (or 25 percent) more than in 2007. During the same period, muggings decreased by two percent.

'The rise in bank and shop robberies is disturbing. Even though these crime categories are not very large and relatively small changes affect the statistics greatly, it is important to note that this is the highest figure in ten years, both for bank and shop robbery', says Jan Andersson, the director general at Brå. 

Car crimes continue to decrease

The type of crime that saw the greatest decrease in reported cases is car crime, which reduced by around 19,300 incidents (or 15 percent) during 2008. Reported cases of car crime have steadily decreased since the beginning of the twenty-first century. It is mainly car theft that has reduced, which has seen a 58 percent decrease since 1999. Incidents where items have been stolen from cars have decreased by 48 percent during the same period.

Other reported crimes that have decreased significantly during 2008 are pickpocketing, with 3,300 fewer crimes, and bicycle theft, with 1,270 fewer cases


  • Reported crime statistics The reported crime statistics present information about the crimes that were reported to and registered by the police, customs, attorney general and the Swedish Economic Crime Authority during a given period.
  • Whether the crime is registered or not depends on if the crime can be detected, and if there is a willingness to report it.
  • It is usually the development of the actual crime that is of interest, but the reported crime statistics reveal only part of the reality. In order to form a more complete overall picture, the statistics need to be complemented by other sources, for example surveys.
  • The crime statistics are mainly used to follow up, evaluate, plan and develop the activities of the justice system.