National alert as police hunt armed raiders

Sweden's police departments have been put on high alert following an armed raid on a security van in Årsta, in the south of Stockholm. At least five robbers threatened the guards with automatic weapons before blowing a hole in the side of the vehicle and making off with an undisclosed sum.

The drama began just after 3pm as the Securitas van’s route was blocked by a green Jeep Cherokee. Five masked men approached the vehicle and one of them, who was apparently wearing a police jacket, fired shots in the air.

“The robbers shot open the passenger door and forced out the guards,” said Aftonbladet’s Oisin Cantwell, who was one of the first reporters on the scene. “Then they blew apart part of the vehicle.” Witnesses reported hearing a powerful explosion.

“This is how they were able to get the goods out of the security van,” said Kjell Lindgren of Stockholm Police to Dagens Nyheter.

“There was an earlier report that one of the guards had been shot but that wasn’t true – naturally he is shaken and shocked, but no physical injuries,” he said.

Aftonbladet reported that at least three cars were involved in the operation, which left a “gaping hole” in the van.

“We don’t know how much they got away with,” said police spokesman Björn Pihlblad to Aftonbladet. “But we know that they had loaded up.”

A Ford Escort was found on fire nearby and a Saab was also discovered soon after the robbery. But the gang appears to have escaped in the Jeep, dropping so-called “Spanish riders” – metal spikes – in the road behind them to stop police pursuing them.

“That sounds about right,” said Pihlblad. “The area has been tidied up now, but let’s see how many people are forced to buy new winter tyres thanks to this.”

Aftonbladet pointed out that the robbery bore several similarities to a raid on another security van in the Ropsten area of Stockholm on November 17th. Three cars were also used in that incident – including a Jeep Cherokee – and one was set on fire.

Nevertheless, Pihlblad said that there were no particular suspects yet.

A massive police hunt was underway on Monday evening, with the elite SWAT unit, NI, joining the hunt along with dog patrols and helicopters.

“This is priority, so we have put in place a special operation,” Kjell Lindgren told DN. “Even so-called domestic search, which means that we are using existing records and exploiting all the information channels we have at our disposal.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Expressen, Aftonbladet


Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.