• Sweden's news in English

Flashlight plunges Swedish village into darkness

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 16 Nov 2010, 10:51

Published: 16 Nov 2010 10:51 GMT+01:00

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November is a dark month in Sweden, with November 2009 offering up only 17.5 hours of sunlight in many parts of the country, an average of 35 minutes a day.

With electric lighting thus an important fact of life for those living in the far north of Europe and with the village of Brokind plunged into darkness on Saturday evening, one could expect that a technician was immediately dispatched to the location to identify the problem.

But sleepy villagers, perhaps not noticing the difference, took their time to report the problem, enduring a blackout throughout the whole of Sunday.

When the local technical power centre was finally made aware of the problem, a repairman was dispatched to the location, and uncovered the flashlight funny business.

The matter has now been reported to the police and the discovery has prompted ire from villagers.

Story continues below…

"We had to fumble our way forward and it was hard to find. I think this is a pretty serious case of mischief. That you leave it there all day so that it was dark even on Sunday evening, I think this is serious," said Inga-Lena Holm, chairperson of the Brokind residents' association to the local Corren daily.

The use of sensors to steer street lighting is common in Sweden with larger cities thus also susceptible to roguish sabotage of the nature which befell rural Brokind.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:00 November 16, 2010 by hipersons1
Oh come on, this was just a good old-fashioned well executed prank, probably by an American annoyed with Swedish passivism. To the prankster, I salute you.
13:01 November 16, 2010 by Twiceshy
How do they know it was a "mischievous local" ?
14:33 November 16, 2010 by Kstock
And in other news a cat got stuck in a tree.
15:06 November 16, 2010 by Jarvilainennen
Caught you off-guard, huh? I´ll give a 9+ out of 10 for that one :)
16:03 November 16, 2010 by eddie123
the pressing question to be asked is: how did the person know where to locate the street sensors? that is the issue that the police has to look into. we all live in communities with light sensitive switches that control street lights yet the vast majority does not know where these sensors are located. that some does is indicative that they are familiar with the operation of street lights in their community. the person responsible for this prank will most likely be someone related to the office in charge of street lights in that community. check current staff, ex staff and all interns within the past 12 months and you'd find the miscreant.
19:13 November 16, 2010 by facetedjewel
How powerful does a flashlight have to be to fool a sensor into thinking it's daylight? How does fooling one sensor blackout an entire town?
20:46 November 16, 2010 by MarkinBoston
How did they notice the difference?
23:28 November 16, 2010 by mikewhite
In the UK, the sensor is on top of each street light !

This case illustrates the problem that most Hollywood action movie plots rely on - the Single Point of Failure:

Star Wars (Death Star, droid attack ...)Independence DayI won't go on ...
02:14 November 17, 2010 by jackx123
what a sad state of affair this is. reporting the best prank in a long time to the police, i guess the swedes are a NO SMILE people
02:32 November 17, 2010 by volvoman9
This simple prank indeed has a simple answer. Street lights may be operated both by a single photo-cell or they may be connected to a master controller which may be operated typically but not always by a photo cell. The photo cells used in these devices do not require strong light levels to operate them hence the light emitted by a torch ( flashlight ) would indeed be enough to activate the switch off mode. This seems to be the case.
08:14 November 17, 2010 by Jarvilainennen
Next thing we need to do is to get a paint-ball gun to each car with black pellets.

Why? To shoot the speed cameras lenses full of black goo of course.

"Do you have black pellets?"

"yyeeah, but why would you want them?"

"Just gimme!"
09:41 November 17, 2010 by Pont-y-garreg
The biggest joke is the quaint style of English this (and most other articles) is written in. It reads like newspapers did in England about 60 years ago.

"Prompted ire from villagers". Ire? Did you find that one in your Swedish-English dictionary, Peter? How about anger or outrage? That's the usual journalistic word.

Then we get "The use of sensors to steer street lighting is common in Sweden with larger cities thus also susceptible to roguish sabotage of the nature which befell rural Brokind."

Oh dear. It's not "steer", it's "control".

"Roguish sabotage"? This must have come straight out of the middle ages.

Keep it like this Peter. It always gives me a chuckle to read this stuff. Intentional or not!
10:32 November 17, 2010 by Keith #5083
@pont y garreg

The beauty of the english language is that it offers over 1 million words in it's vocabulary.

The ability to choose words/use words that are not in 'current vogue' is an asset. I would have hoped, from your name, that you would appreciate the need to keep a language alive and interesting. After all, if Shakespeare had pandered to tudor tastes

the language would have been the poorer for it.

Keep up the good work, The Local :)
12:33 November 17, 2010 by shame, shame
Second that Keith.

English is such an abundant language, I wish more writers would dare to test the boundaries of linguistic licence.

I have always admired, for example, Stephen Fry for his sumptuous turn of phrase. There is no "correct" choice of word. I urge you to go forth unto the breach, Peter and The Local, and delve into the rich tapestry of this wonderful language...

... and ignore that old misanthropic fuss pot Pont and his calls for prosaic uniformity.
21:02 November 17, 2010 by Coalbanks
It wuz the coppers! With the street lights out the miscreants stay home! Or they use torches to prowl & can be seen by the coppers. Happened in N Sweden a few winters ago & the crime rate fell huge. Must be true - Iread it in The LOCAL! HO Ho HO!
03:01 November 19, 2010 by Zhorka
On the positive side, it saved them some energy.
21:53 November 19, 2010 by MichaelZWilliamson
The flashlight on my belt is 240 lumens at max output. It would fool a sensor.

However, I can prove I wasn't in Sweden at the time.
18:03 November 20, 2010 by whatnowki
I love it! It's sheer genius!!
16:07 November 26, 2010 by zeulf
Dear Local thanks for the informative newsletter. I'm always impressed by non-native speakers use of Language, Its much better than my Swedish, German ... Well done
20:35 December 16, 2010 by Carol E. Olden
Where I come from terrorists do this sort of thing to black out the streets and scare people walking home from the grocery store or other locations at night into thinking that they are going to be robbed or murdered on the way home in the dark. I had to buy a portable small handheld flashlight to carry in my purse in case of emergencies like that before I got a cellphone with lantern function to be able to see in case of power outage. It is not a nice feeling to be on the way home from the store and see the streetlights on the way be knocked out one by one so as to be in the dark, by someone taking advantage of the fact that people like me at times had to be able to go shopping at night due to our schedules, as attending meetings elsewhere so not at home to be able to shop in the daylight hours. They have now made it a crime to scare people to death by causing a heart attack so as to try to deter this sort of activity as it is not just fun but causes terror in the hearts of people to think that they are not going to be able to see where they are and make it home, Just think if someone could do that to the car lights on vehicles as they were running what mayhem they would cause to people traveling at night!
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