Gangs target foreign tourists at Arlanda airport

Criminal gangs appear to have set their sights on foreign tourists at Stockholm's Arlanda airport this summer. Police at the airport have recorded a major increase in the number of thefts this summer compared to last year, Svenska Dagbladet reports.

Gangs target foreign tourists at Arlanda airport
Photo: LFV/Daniel Asplund

“The methods have become considerably more sophisticated this summer,” police spokesman Åke Granberg told the newspaper. “They are operating in gangs of three to four people: the first person takes the bag, then passes it on to another before the next person runs out to a waiting car.”

Police have noticed that foreign tourists are being particularly targeted this summer.

“We have had larger numbers of wealthy tourists coming in and they are often the ones who are chosen by pickpockets and baggage thieves.

“This type of victim requires a certain amount of attention from us, in that we have to spend time sorting out passports rather than chasing the bad guys. It’s very frustrating,” Granberg told Svenska Dagbladet.

Police are calling on passengers to keep a close eye on their possessions to prevent a further escalation.

“There are indications that much of this is the work of a Spanish-speaking gang that we recognize from last summer, but it is very likely that there are also other groups involved,” said Granberg.


Security queue at Stockholm Arlanda now down to ten minutes

The queue at security at Stockholm's Arlanda airport was down to ten minutes on Friday morning, after a new terminal was opened and temporary staff brought in.

Security queue at Stockholm Arlanda now down to ten minutes

At 7am, the queue at security at the airport’s Terminal 5 had fallen from 45 minutes to ten minutes, although the airport operators says queue times may increase as people start to leave Sweden on the weekend. 

“We’ve managed to get through the morning rush, it’s levelling out now,” Ellen Laurin, a press spokesperson for Swedavia, told TT, although she said queue times could rise again during the day and again on Saturday morning. “There could be a heavy footfall, and June is generally a big month for travel, so queue times could go up and down over the day.” 

She said that the company had now posted more of its own personnel to the airport, had struck a deal with a recruitment company to provide more temporary staff, and had also shifted passengers from many planes to the newly opened Terminal 4. 

“It’s had an effect. We have freed up both more area and also new capacity by opening Terminal 4.” 

She said that the company was advising travellers to check in online, or, if they have no baggage, to go directly to the security controls, as well as to check with their airline how many hours before the flight departs check-in opens.  

The improved situation at Arlanda came as Sweden’s government received the results of an inquiry into what was behind the queues at the airport.

Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, Sweden’s business minister, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper that he was “not satisfied” with how the airline had handled the resurgence in travel after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“It’s always easy to be clever with hindsight, but obviously we’re not satisfied with the way Swedavia has handled this during the spring. It would make no sense to say that we’re satisfied when people have been stuck in hour-long queues at Arlanda.” 

Thorwaldsson said that the airport operators couldn’t do much about the time it is taking Sweden’s Säpo security police to carry out background checks on people being hired to work at security controls, but it could have started paying those who are applying for the job salaries while they waited to be cleared, so they did not lose patience get a job elsewhere. 

Thorwaldsson also suggested that the airport could have hired people to help guide passengers around the airport several weeks earlier.