“The same gang has come to us three times in two months,” said an employee from the Kista Galleria mall, located north of Stockholm, to TV4.
The employee added that a colleague of his was punched for not giving the gang members money.
“He didn’t come back to work after that.”
The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, added that when he tried to intervene in the matter, he felt that one of the men had a bulletproof vest.
He wishes police would do more to counteract the problem.
“Just having police walk by means a lot. The police should be a bit tougher, then this wouldn’t have been any problem,” he said.
The head of Kista Galleria, Gunnar Mässing, said that the arrival of the gangs is a relatively recent phenomenon.
“They first turned up here in 2008. Tenants came to us and said that they were being bothered by organizations and people whom they felt threatened by,” Mässing told TV4.
Kista Galleria has about 50,000 visitors a day and an annual turnover of 2.2 billion kronor ($264 million).
Mässing said that, as of yet, mall management doesn’t know of any criminal gangs that have succeeded in establishing ties to the shopping centre’s stores.
Nevertheless he remains concerned that several stores remain vulnerable for extortion.
“The tenants who are the primary targets for these sorts of visits are restaurants, cafes, dry cleaners; that is to say, stores which have a high volume of cash transactions,” he said, adding that he has alerted tenants that mall management will do what it can to help them deal with the unwanted guests.
“We’re managing the situation with the utmost seriousness because we know what these types of organizations are capable of doing.”
But the mall employee remains concerned for his safety.
“Gangs are here all the time. I’m worried that they’ll be waiting for me in the garage or at home,” he said.