Bank robber cop hunts himself

The 36 year old police inspector must have thought he had it all wrapped up. In the morning he was training new colleagues. In the afternoon he robbed a Nordea bank. And by the evening he was on the case, hunting the criminals.

Now, he is in custody in Söderhamn, in the province of Hälsingland, charged with what Dagens Nyhter called “one of the worst police crimes so far”: serious robbery, fraud, hijacking, making illegal threats and breach of duty. He faces up to ten years in prison.

“The public’s confidence in us has taken a bit of a knock,” admitted Sten Sundqvist, chief of police in Söderhamn and the 36 year old’s boss.

On December 17th last year, a masked robber went into the Köpmansgatan branch of Nordea in Söderhamn. He threatened staff with a weapon and allegedly took over 200,000 crowns. Outside the bank he stopped a car, forced the elderly woman driver out at gunpoint and used it to escape.

The 36 year old was one of the officers from the local police station who was involved in the intensive search which followed. That evening he led the arrest of two suspects – known drug-abusers – and appeared in media coverage brandishing a submachine gun.

A couple of weeks later the two ‘suspects’ were released without charge.

Then on Friday the 36 year old policeman was arrested. It is not clear what led his colleagues to believe that he was the robber but during the proceedings – held behind closed doors – at Bollnäs district court on Monday he admitted to the crime.

“He is completely linked to the crime,” a ‘source’ told Expressen. “What’s more, we can show that he used his police weapon in the robbery.”

Prosecutor Nils Hallonsten told DN that the arrest took place after an internal investigation showed that two weeks ago the policeman bought a brand new Volvo for 219,000 crowns – in cash.

The 36 year old’s workmates declared themselves “frustrated, angry and disappointed” by his behaviour.

“This has come like a bolt from the blue and is something that many colleagues find very hard to swallow,” said Sten Sundqvist. “Something must have gone wrong.”

Expressen reported that the man lives with his wife and children in a small town in Hälsingland, and lives “a normal family life” with no money problems.

However, DN revealed that his record is not entirely unblemished. At the end of the 1990s he took an angle-grinder from a car he was searching and was punished with a fine. And in 2002 he reported that his house had been burgled and was awarded a considerable payout – said to be over 100,000 crowns – by his insurance company.

But in his official capacity he decided that the break-in should not be investigated. Now, the case is to be reopened as part of the prosecution.

“I have decided that this will also be included in our investigation and have requested the old documents,” said Nils Hallonsten.

Internal investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the 36 year old is involved in other crimes but could not offer any reasons for why he should have become involved in crime. And neither could he.

“He can’t give any explanation for what’s happened,” said his lawyer, Karl-Gösta Myhrberg, to Aftonbladet. “He is deeply regretful.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Expressen, Aftonbladetspan>