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CRIME

Sweden faces cash shortage after robbery

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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ENERGY

EXPLAINED: When should I turn on my heating in Sweden this year?

Energy costs in Sweden are set to reach sky-high levels this winter, which will leave many people wondering when they should start heating their homes. Here's what you need to bear in mind.

EXPLAINED: When should I turn on my heating in Sweden this year?

What’s happening?

As a result of supply stoppages for cheap Russian gas affecting energy prices on the European market – particularly in Germany – energy prices in Sweden have been at record levels for months, especially in the two energy price zones in the south of the country.

With winter looming and no sign of things getting cheaper anytime soon, private individuals are starting to cut down on energy usage as much as they can to slash their bills this season.

Does it make a difference what type of accommodation I live in?

The right time to start heating your home depends on several factors including your own personal preference, the weather, whether you live in rented accommodation or own your own property, and on the age and features of the property you live in.

How does the heating system work in Swedish homes?

More than half of all houses and commercial properties in Sweden use district heating or fjärrvärme, with this number rising to around 90 percent for apartment buildings.

This system distributes hot water from heating plants to houses and apartments through underground water pipes, meaning that heating sources are centralised, rather than individual houses or apartments having their own heating source.

In smaller towns and in houses, district heating is less common, and it’s these households who can benefit the most from waiting longer to turn on their heating.

Do I control my heating?

It depends. If you live in a rented apartment or a bostadsrättsforening (co-operative housing association) with district heating, your landlord or the board of your housing foundation will usually decide for you when to turn your heating on.

Unlike other countries, Sweden has no official legal heating season, with heating in bostadsrättsföreningar usually switched on automatically following periods of cold weather, no matter which date they occur on.

This will usually be designed to provide an indoor temperature of around 21 degrees – you can turn your radiators down if you feel this is too warm, but you won’t usually be able to turn them up if you want the temperature to be warmer.

The Public Health Agency recommends temperatures of between 20 and 24 degrees indoors, with temperatures lower than 18 degrees in apartments posing a health risk.

Temperatures lower than 14 are not recommended as they can cause condensation and mould growth on walls and furnishings, which, again, are a health risk, and can cause permanent damage to properties.

Can I save money by waiting to turn my heating on?

Again, it depends. If you’re renting and you pay varmhyra – rent with heating included – then you won’t save money directly, but heating your home wisely could make it less likely for your landlord to raise your rent to cover increased heating costs.

If you pay kallhyra – rent without heating included, then waiting to turn on the heating will save money on your electricity bill.

Similarly, in some housing associations, electricity and heating costs are included in your monthly fee, meaning you pay your share of the heating costs for the entire building ever month. In this case, your energy costs are more affected by how much energy everyone else in your housing association uses than your individual usage.

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about how warm your heating is – if you have your heating on full-blast for the whole winter, your costs will increase as well as the costs of all of your neighbours, and if the entire association’s energy costs increase substantially, the board may decide to raise the monthly fee or avgift for everyone in the building to cover this.

If you pay an individual energy bill based on your own household’s usage, and not on an average of the whole building, it could pay to wait before you switch on your heating.

How else can I save money on heating costs?

Turning your heating down a couple of degrees can make a big difference to your heating costs, but you can also save money on heating and make your property feel warmer by making it more energy effective.

There are a few easy ways to do this, according to the Swedish Energy Agency.

Firstly, make sure your house is well insulated, not just your doors and windows, but also in the loft: a large amount of a building’s heat escapes through the roof. This also applies to the boundaries between well-insulated and poorly-insulated areas.

If you have a cellar or conservatory, for example, which is not heated and not insulated, make sure the door between this room and the rest of the house is well-insulated with no gaps around the doorframe where heat can escape into the colder room. 

In a similar vein, locate any drafts and do what you can to block them, either with draft excluders or by replacing worn-out draft excluder strips on old doors and windows.

You can also benefit from thinking about how you furnish your home – furniture placed in front of radiators mean it is harder for warm air to circulate, and you can keep your house warmer at night by closing your curtains or blinds to keep eat from escaping through your windows.

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