Poles lured into crime in Sweden

Some 100 people from Poland have been tricked into a life of crime in Sweden in the past year in the belief that they were being offered jobs in the country, Swedish media reported on Sunday.

The Poles have travelled to the southern Swedish city of Malmö after being offered jobs by a ring of human traffickers. On arrival they have been forced to hand over their passports and ordered to steal from shops, Swedish regional daily Sydsvenskan reported in its online edition.

Those who refuse to cooperate are often beaten, burned with lighters and locked away. Their clothes and passports are often confiscated, the paper said.

The Poles are forced to shoplift 10 or 20 times a day, stealing up to 1,000 kronor worth of articles at a time.

In the past week alone, Malmö district court heard five cases of Poles arrested for shoplifting who claimed to be victims of the trafficking ring, the paper said.

“These are shocked and upset people who have been tricked into coming here under the guise of a promise of a job. Instead they are put in a store and told to steal,” Poland’s vice-consul in Malmö, Rafal Mitold, told Sydsvenskan.

Polish authorities are aware of the problem and the government has posted warnings on its website.

“But the people most at risk probably don’t have access to Internet. So they can’t read the website,” Mitold said, explaining that the victims are often poor people or runaways.

According to the paper, the trafficking ring is organised by a handful of families in Malmö.

On March 10th, Swedish police arrested a 20-year-old believed to be one of the organisers. His trial is due to begin shortly.