Police “hopeful” in hunt for highway robbers

As police continue to pick up the pieces following Monday's attack on a Securicor van in Stockholm, technical experts suggest that the robbers had little experience of explosives - and were lucky not to have blown themselves up as they raided the vehicle.

So far only one person has been arrested in the aftermath of the crime, which was one of Sweden’s most violent highway robberies. A team of around 50 police officers from the Södertörn station have been assigned to the case.

Up to 15 people are thought to have been involved in the crime and police sources have told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter that detectives are focusing on the Tumba-based criminal network ‘Fucked For Life’.

The robbery appears to have been a professional operation, backed by significant resources. Ten cars were set on fire in the vicinity, smoke flares were set off and spikes were spread across roads, all in an apparently successful attempt to hold up the police.

But police technical experts say that the way in which the explosives were used suggests an element of amateurism.

“Professional robbers want to cut a limited opening in the security vehicle’s vault, we’ve seen that in previous cases,” said Harras Kopsch, a senior technical officer at Stockholm police.

“But here the whole of the vehicle’s back section was blown sky high – which can’t exactly have been an advantage.”

Kopsch said that the police are working on the assumption that the robbers lacked any explosives training.

The guards had been forced away from the van and the robbers sheltered behind an electricity box before the explosion. Nevertheless, they were lucky to be able to continue with their operation, according to Kopsch.

“The robbers had no control over what happened,” he said.

The van was said to have contained up to 30 million kronor in cash destined to be destroyed. In such cases the serial numbers of the notes are not recorded – meaning they will be more or less impossible to trace.

While police think luck played a role, Expressen’s sources say that the evidence points to an insider at Securicor.

“Otherwise it’s extraordinary that they knew that this was carrying cash for destruction – such transport is irregular,” said the source.

And given that so many people were involved there must have been accurate information about the route and timing of the Securicor vehicle’s journey.

Having already caught one of those involved, a 20 year old who drove his motorbike directly at an unmarked police car, officers say they are optimistic about catching the rest of the gang.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen


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.