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Helicopter heist causes cash flow concerns

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Helicopter heist causes cash flow concerns
11:37 CEST+02:00
While police continue to gather evidence, traders and store owners in the Stockholm area are concerned over a possible shortage of cash following the spectacular robbery of a cash depot south of the city.

It remains unknown just how much cash may have been hoisted up into the waiting helicopter during the brazen Wednesday morning attack, which targeted a G4S cash depot in Västberga south of Stockholm.

The helicopter used in the heist was later found near a lake in Arninge north of Stockholm and police continue to search the area for clues.

As the investigation unfolds, however, business owners are raising concerns about a possible shortage of cash due to the robbery.

"The depot provides a large share of the local cash reserves," Dick Malmlund of the Swedish Federation of Trade (Svensk Handel) told the TT news agency.

"If a facility like this is taken out of the game...we don't have a large reserve capacity. No one can afford to make that happen these days."

He fears that Wednesday's daring attack on a Västberga cash depot may lead to a cash shortage in Stockholm's local teller machines and stores.

”It's a bit like stopping traffic on an entry road, all of Stockholm will be affected. This is the same thing,” he said.

The heist comes just days before Swedes across the country are set to be paid their monthly salaries.

While most salary payments are transmitted by wire, the once-a-month occurrence usually prompts a flurry of cash withdrawals by Swedes who mark their paydays with a weekend spending binge on consumer goods, entertainment, and restaurant meals.

As a result, there may have been more cash on hand on the depot than usual.

While no official details have been released regarded the amount of money that may have been at the depot at the time of the heist, crime expert Leif G W Persson told TT there may have been as much as 1 billion kronor ($146 million).

Malmlund was also critical of the apparent ease with which police helicopters were grounded as a part of the caper due to fake bombs being placed in the hangar.

“If we at the Trade Federation are to put measures in place to prevent these sorts of occurrences, its critical that police resources shouldn't be taken out of the game so easily,” he said.

“We know that the robbers were using caltraps [a spiked weapon laid out to puncture car tyres], so police vehicles were out of the game in no time. So we really needed helicopters to support us.”

Stefan Wikman, the head of production at Loomis, a competitor with G4S in the field of cash flow management, confirms that the robbery may result in local cash shortages.

“Sure, there is a small risk. In certain cases there may be short-term problems with automatic teller machines and so forth,” he told TT.

Aside from the cash depot hit in Wednesday's robbery, two others exist in Stockholm. The largest is managed by Loomis.

”We're working full out now trying to manage the situation and to ensure that there won't be any significant money shortages.”

According to Wikman, much depends upon the length of time that police barricades remain in place at G4S locations. He compared the current situation with the attempted robbery of Loomis that took place earlier in the spring:

”The greatest damage for us occurred during the time that police had blocked off the premises. But, naturally, we completely understand that they need to carry out thorough investigations,” he said.

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