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Swede of the Week
Poor Swedish pensioner shoplifts to eat

Poor Swedish pensioner shoplifts to eat

Published: 25 Jul 2013 16:07 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Jul 2013 16:07 GMT+02:00

In a country known for its generous welfare system, our Swede of the Week is a woman who has been turning heads nationwide for highlighting the other side of the spectrum - an 85-year-old woman whose pension was so insufficient that she turned to stealing food.

The pensioner, who lives in Västerås in eastern Sweden, was waiting for her daughter to visit when she decided to shoplift a meal for the pair.

"I'm so ashamed, but it's so hard to make my pension suffice," she told the Västmanlands Läns Tidning (VLT). "It's not the first time I've stolen. I've done it before when I was hungry."

The woman was sentenced on Tuesday for shoplifting, and was ordered to pay a fine of 5,400 kronor ($825).

The woman's pension is 9,000 kronor and her rent is 6,500 kronor. On the day of the theft, the woman admitted that she hadn't even planned to shop, but simply became jealous while watching her friend choose groceries without paying a second thought.

Staff at the Ica supermarket in Bäckby caught the woman with groceries valued at roughly 500 kronor, including salmon, mince, cheese, ham, bread, and sausages.

The woman told the paper that she has never stolen anything besides food every now and again, and that her monthly allowance hardly covers the costs of her medicine that she needs for her asthma and blood pressure.

The story has caught the attention of the Swedish public, with many national newspapers picking up the story.

Sweden's pensioners often live on a tight budget, with LO union newspaper Arbetet pointing out in June that one in three retired Swedes are living below the poverty line.

Around 45 percent of the female pensioner population, and 25 percent of the men, have such low income from their pension that they are living in poverty, the paper wrote. Poverty is more common among the unmarried than the married, and among the foreign-born than those born in Sweden.

Editor's Note: The Local's Swede of the Week is someone in the news who - for good or ill - has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as Swede of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.

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