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Sweden faces cash shortage after robbery

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18:22 CET+01:00
Updated 2005/11/04 11:34

Security vans in Gothenburg, Malmö and Stockholm were not operating on Friday morning, after a violent robbery in Bohuslän prompted drivers to refuse to work without police escorts.

The security representative at the Transport union said that the vehicles would be out of action until further notice, prompting fears of a cash shortage in Sweden's main cities and increased risk of robberies as cash accumulates in major stores.

Securitas has asked the Swedish Work Environment Agency to look into the union's stoppage and throughout Friday morning advisors at the agency in the three cities were meeting to try to find a solution to the issue.

On Thursday evening the National Police Department recveived a request from Securitas for police escorts on all its security vans in the cities.

"We have still noot had an answer, but we hope to get one later in the day," said the head of information at Securitas, Åke Andersson, to TT.

In the meantime, hundreds of pick-ups and deliveries have been suspended, said the Transport union's regional safety controller, Gerhard Wendt.

"This is the first time we've had a stoppage on this scale over safety," he said, adding that union members had reacted strongly to the recent violent attacks on security vehicles.

"There is an incredible fear that something will happen when you go out. We must act now, because nothing is changing. It's almost harder to take candy from a child than it is to rob a security vehicle," he said.

Securitas's press officer Åke Andersson told news agency TT that his company had "understanding for the unions".

"We are very concerned for our employees. What has happened today is the worst that has happened for a long time," he said.

Asked what effects the stoppage would have for ordinary members of the public, he replied that "ATMs will be empty".

Malmö's director of public prosecutions Sven-Erik Alhem - who is also a member of the Liberal Party - warned of the effects of stopping security transports. He told TT that it was a sign of society's weakness and that instead the police should be providing protection.

"It would be extremely serious if society was disrupted by a small number of criminals who target security vans," he said.

Alhem said that the police should make greater efforts in their detective and undercover work to track down the criminal group, thought to consist of only around 50 individuals, behind the well-planned robberies.

"It's very important that society sends the right signals so that other groups don't follow their lead when they see that you can get a lot of money by robbing transport vehicles," he said.

The stoppage came after a security van was blown up near a Statoil petrol station on the E6 highway between Stenungsund and Kungälv.

The robbers stopped the Securitas van by driving in front of it and braking hard. Two masked men, who were armed with guns, then blew up the van and drove away with the money. It is unknown how much they took.

Before blowing up the van, the men forced out the Securitas guards at gunpoint. The guards, one male and one female, sustained superficial injuries.

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TT/The Local

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