For members


FACT CHECK: Is crime really on the rise in Vienna?

The far-right in Austria often claims crime is on the rise and tries to connect that with the rising numbers of migrants. But how valid is this claim? Here is the latest data from the Vienna police.

FACT CHECK: Is crime really on the rise in Vienna?
Police cars stand in front of Schoenbrunn Palace on February 14, 2023. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

Austria is a very safe country to live in, having one of the lowest crime rates in the world. However, if you pay attention to politicians’ speeches, especially those from the far-right, you might get a different picture. 

“The wave of foreign violence does not subside in Austria”, reads a far-right press release from January 2023, when two cases involving foreign citizens made headlines in Austria. At the time, a Polish man was arrested suspected of murdering a young mother in Vienna, and an Iraqi citizen allegedly stabbed his partner in Linz. 

Far-right leader Michael Schnedlitz wrote: “The reports are shocking and the result of the decades-long failure of the ÖVP in asylum and immigration policy. These events make us speechless. How many more people are to lose their lives before the black-green federal government finally acts?”

The party added: “Decades of ÖVP failure make Austria an increasingly unsafe place to live”, calling for the ruling coalition to curb migration in the country, particularly to the capital Vienna.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What happened at the Linz Halloween riots?

But is crime really on the rise in Vienna? 

A recent report by the Vienna State Police Directorate (Landespolizeidirektion) showed the crime trends in Vienna with statistics for 2022. 

According to the police, after declining in the two pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, criminal offences increased 16.7 percent for the year 2022, totalling 168,303 offences.

However, overall crime remained below the level recorded in 2019, when 173,574 offences were registered. In 2013, before the migration crisis and when the Austrian population was smaller, there were 212,503 criminal offences filed.

READ ALSO: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

The most common type of crime in Vienna is “property crime” including theft, pickpocketing, and burglaries. According to the police, the number of residential burglaries increased by 42.9 percent from 2021 to 2022, totalling 2,873 cases. In comparison, in 2019, there were 4,135 reports, while in 2013, there were 8,703.

In 2022, about 52.9 percent of the suspects investigated were of foreign origin, a proportion 33.7 percent higher than in 2013. By the end of 2022, about 34.3 percent of Vienna’s population was foreign citizens, according to Statistik Austria.

The Viennese police did not give information on how many foreigners were arrested and how many were found guilty.

What are the police doing to combat crime?

The Vienna Police Department said it would further intensify the presence of uniformed and civilian law enforcement officers in public spaces and continue “investigative measures to prevent clashes between ethnic groups and to solve crimes”.

The police report didn’t specify instances of “clashes between ethnic groups”, but it did say the number of violent crimes increased 13.7 percent year on year in 2022, to 27,240. However, the majority (56.9 percent) of the violent crimes committed were preceded by a relationship between the offender and the victim.

READ ALSO: Austrian police warn public about new ‘fake cops’ scam

“Furthermore, investigations into pickpocketing, narcotics procurement crime and gang crime are being further intensified.”, the police headquarters added.

Finally, the authorities also said that the focus would continue to be combating cybercrime and stepping up prevention work. In 2022, cybercrime rose sharply again in Vienna. Within the past ten years, the number of reported offences increased from 3,390 in 2013 to 22,230 in 2022.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Austria to summon Hungary ambassador over human smugglers’ release

Austria's foreign ministry said it will summon the Hungarian ambassador later Monday after Budapest revealed its plans to release hundreds of convicted human smugglers from prison, citing high costs.

Austria to summon Hungary ambassador over human smugglers' release

Last month, the Hungarian government issued a decree, which allows for the release of up to 700 foreign detainees convicted of people smuggling, provided they leave the country within 72 hours.

“We expect an immediate and complete clarification from Hungary and have… summoned the Hungarian Ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Vienna for an urgent meeting this afternoon,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

READ ALSO: How many travellers are turned away at European borders because of 90 day limit?

“We are very concerned about reports of the Hungarian government’s decree to release… convicted human smugglers,” it said. “As a neighbouring country, this decision… has a direct impact on our security,” it added.

Over the weekend, Austria’s Interior Ministry said it would tighten border checks with Hungary, especially focusing on vehicles coming from Hungary, Romania and Serbia.

Following an unconfirmed Hungarian media report that several convicted people smugglers have been released, the Austrian ministry instructed its head of public safety to contact the Hungarian authorities and “prepare and initiate… countermeasures”.

READ ALSO: EU’s planned biometric border check system ‘delayed again’

“Smugglers are criminals who belong to organised crime. Their brutal acts endanger human lives,” the ministry said.

On Sunday, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg discussed the matter with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto. The Hungarian government did not immediately reply to a request by AFP to confirm whether it has started to enforce the decree.

Budapest has justified the decree, stating that its taxpayers should no longer need to pay the high costs associated with imprisoning foreign criminals.

Hungary also said the number of prisoners convicted of crimes related to human trafficking has been increasing in recent years.

READ ALSO: Reader Question: Does a passport renewal restart the 90 day clock for visiting Austria?

According to information provided by the Hungarian government, 2,600 foreign convicts from 73 countries are currently being held in Hungarian prisons.

Some 700 detainees would be affected by the measure.