Beware of Pickpocketers in Stockholm

I am writing this article while we are still in Sweden enjoying our one-month long summer roadtrip in the country. Right now we are 60 km north of Gothenburg in Sweden’s West Coast. I do not want to scare you when you visit Stockholm but it is true that lately there are more people interested in stealing from unaware tourists in the city center.

People having a coffee break in Skansen, Stockholm <br /> Photo: Israel Úbeda / sweetsweden.com

People having a coffee break in Skansen, Stockholm
Photo: Israel Úbeda / sweetsweden.com

Let me tell you two stories I have directly or indirectly experienced:

  •  less than a couple of months ago a friend of my sister was visiting Stockholm for business and got her wallet stolen completely unnoticedly somewhere in the city center. I was advising her about the trip and when she told me I felt really bad because just like in Barcelona unfortunately it is very normal for tourists to get robbed (Nordic and Asian as main targets) in Sweden and Stockholm it didn’t use to happen anything. However, recently this is changing.
  • while standing at Strömkajen in the queue to board a boat to the archipelago I could see a group of men dressed as tourist but with an akward behaviour. One of the four men sat on a bench a kept looking at the crowd surrounding Strömma’s ticket office where you need to buy / redeem your ticket to go on board. When time was right and the crowd was unaware somehow this guy signaled who the victim was. Two other guys, one with a map and the other one with a backpack, got into the crowd ready to pickpocket while a third guy was standing with his back towards them and the crowd and facing outwards. That guy is the one that saw me checking on them. They had been suspicious to me since the beginning because of their clothes (all four with very distinctive colours and sunglasses), the Eastern European language they spoke to each other (the one most robbers in Europe use) and because they looked strange to me as if somehow they didn’t fit there. That may be a byproduct of spending a lot of time in Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona where I got used to spot them.

When I realized what was going on and they left because of me staring at them I went to the ticket office and told Strömma’s employee to warn the crowd waiting for their tickets that pickpocketers were in the area. The employee called her boss and I explained the same to him and even provided a description of what they pickpocketers were wearing. He told me that on that same morning some people had been stolen and the same had happened during the whole week. Hours after that situation I met face to face with one of the pickpocketers while he was exiting Mood Stockholm. a central shopping mall in the city.

My recommendations:

  • be extra careful with crowded places: queus to get on board, queues for tickets to museums or boats, shopping malls, cafés and fastfood places, etc.
  • if travelling with group decide who is going to pick the tickets and let the rest of the group remain aware.
  • backpacks should be placed in front of you and the wallet never should be in the outer pocket. Your wallet should be in your trouser’s front pocket.

Unfortunately the typical precautions one had in every big European capital have also arrived to Stockholm (and Gothenburg and Malmö). I would feel very bad if some of my readers get robbed during your stay in Sweden so that’s why I wanted to warn you in advance. No need to panic though. Just be aware.

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