Police put the squeeze on hug thieves

Stockholm police have warned residents to be on their guard against a gang of thieves which is targeting its marks with seemingly harmless hugs. According to more than 20 victims, the passionate pickpockets issue an embrace without any greeting or warning, sometimes lifting them off the ground. It is thought that a second gang member, who scoped out the location of the valuables earlier, then empties the person’s pockets.

The targets are usually young women on nights out but, according to Gunnar Thun of the Stockholm police, “Even men have fallen victim.” Speaking to the Metro, he added, “But in those cases, it’s more of an embrace or a pat on the back.”

The thefts have occurred over the past fortnight in the central districts of Gamla Stan and Södermalm, with mostly wallets and phones going missing. Police believe there may be as many as four members of the gang, as descriptions vary widely.

Stockholm residents and visitors are being warned against getting too friendly with strangers.