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Hugging-theft: A new epidemic

Hugs - the universal gesture of affection - aren't always as kind and friendly as they seem. The epidemic of 'hugger muggers' or 'kramtyv' has made its way to Denmark

‘Hugger Muggers’, or ‘Kramtyv’ in Danish, desbribes an individual who approaches a stranger in the street, metro, or a crowded public area and offers them a hug, while stealing their phone or wallet out of their pocket or bag. This type of crime has become associated with phone thefts: particularly iPhones and other valuable smartphones.

This form of theft is ominous due to its innocent nature; hugs are a warm gesture between two people who have some sort of relationship, so it is particularly surprising to receive a hug from a stranger in a public place.

These types of attacks often occur late at night on weekends, and drinking is often used as an excuse for this unusual display of affection.

Common in the city centre

Danish news site Ekstra Bladet reports one such theft occuring late at night near Nørreport station, not far from the University of Copenhagen’s city centre campus. An individual offered a hug after asking to borrow a lighter, and it was during this hug that the student had their iPhone stolen.

Several other Copenhagen students have reported similar unpleasant experiences to the University Post, mostly occuring around the city centre and metro stations.

Henrik Olesen, central intelligence director at the Copenhagen Police department, reports to Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, that numerous pickpockets use this hug-method.

An official new term

This issue has become so prevalent in Scandinavia that Sweden’s Language Council has added the swedish term ‘kramtjuv’ or ‘hug-theft’ to its list of ‘New Words of 2012 (

If you are the victim of a ‘hug-theft’, or any manner of theft, you are advised to contact the police, and file a report online at

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