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Google snaps suspected illegal booze deal

The Local/rm · 20 Oct 2011, 10:38

Published: 20 Oct 2011 10:38 GMT+02:00

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”It seems like a case of peddling alcohol and a very cheeky one at that,” said head of the local police, Peter Wikberg, to regional paper Dagbladet when he first saw the images.

In the images, which can be viewed using Google Maps' Street View function, a woman exits the local branch of the state-run liquor store monopoly with a what appears to a signature Systembolaget-brand plastic bag in her hand.

Suddenly a young girl joins her and just outside of the entrance, in the middle of the street, the woman hands the bag over to the girl.

Unbeknownst to both, a Google Maps photographer, happening to pass by that location at precisely the same moment, captured the entire transaction on camera, thus making it available for the entire world to see on the internet.

According to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN) the police has managed to pinpoint more or less when the incident occurred, by looking at the Google images of the other parts of the town.

Roadworks, finished during autumn 2010, were in full swing as the pictures were taken. A car belonging to one of the local police officers is also parked outside the station, which indicates that it wasn't a weekend.

But that's about as much as police have been able to glean from the pictures.

On Thursday, the head of the local Systembolaget outlet visited the station but was also unable to identify the people in the picture.

As it has been impossible to ascertain the identity of the people, the contents of the bag, or the time of the incident, there is not much the police can do despite their suspicions that the images do indeed record the illegal purchasing of alcohol for a minor.

”From what we know today there are no legal avenues open to take this further,” said Wikberg to DN.

Wikberg was nevertheless impressed that Google Maps had managed to catch a potential case of alcohol peddling considering the many hours local police has spent on both surveillance and anti-peddling campaigns without catching anyone in the act.

”It must be a chance in a billion that you go past one day and manage to catch an ongoing crime on camera. Incredibly fascinating. We may have to review our surveillance methods after this,” he said to Dagbladet.

However, Wikberg later pointed out to DN that the pictures don't actually prove that what is seen is a case of alcohol peddling. It could be a case of a mother and her daughter, where the girl only holds the bag for a moment.

Story continues below…

”The most positive scenario would be if there was a natural explanation and these people got in touch with us so that we could find out what really happened,” he told the paper.

The images have spread via Facebook and one of those that reacted strongly against them is the chairman of the local social welfare board (Socialnämnden), Per-Arne Frisk.

“I have been out on town myself and worked really intensely against the peddling of alcohol to minors. When I see pictures like this I quite naturally get very upset,” he said to Dagbladet.

Frisk is worried that it may give a false and negative image of the Timrå community to the rest of the world, despite the possibility that it is a completely innocent incident.

“It still doesn't make Timrå look very good,” Frisk told the paper.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:17 October 20, 2011 by Abe L
I really wish the police would not spend their time on these kind of utterly trivial and non-important matters and would go catch criminals instead.
11:47 October 20, 2011 by Rap43
Two English words spring immediately to mind:

News: the communication of selected information on current events which is presented by print, broadcast, Internet, or word of mouth to a third party or mass audience.


Newsworthiness: a subject having sufficient relevance to the public or a special audience to warrant press attention or coverage.

Hello? theLocal? Is anyone home?

12:54 October 20, 2011 by Great Scott
What a stupid conclusion, they don't know what was in the bag but criminal activities were going on. Message here is, when selling 20 bottles of vodka to a minor outside the Systembolaget, use a Coop bag. Save the Systembolaget bag for your veg.
13:34 October 20, 2011 by Jes
Lets stop pretending that were are not smart enough . Of course it is common for minors in Sweden to use a few irresponsible adults to buy booze or ciggerates for them.

Of course it is common for parents to enter systembollaget with their small children - And since we all know that children learn through imitation , why should an intelligent person be surprised that some woman is willing to buy alcohol for a girl who learnt how to drink from her mother ?

Of course most smoking parents don´t mind smoking in cars in infron of their small children . Can such parents be the same people who will think that the habit of peddling alcohol is wrong ?
14:43 October 20, 2011 by Kahmoudi
Sweden needs to stop. I'm glad they got away with it. Here in American it's called everyday life; it's practically a right of passage to try to get an adult to buy you booze or cigarettes.They need to worry that child molesters are getting slapped on the wrist and their politicians are pulling scams like having taxpayers paying rent for their girlfriends. Priorities folks!
16:48 October 20, 2011 by Frobobbles
It is, as can be read in a certain large forum, a recognizable mother and daughter. The Local and other papers publishing this can be sued for libel.
10:34 October 21, 2011 by Heebz
The best part of the report is "A car belonging to one of the local police officers is also parked outside the station, which indicates that it wasn't a weekend." god forbid that police in Sweden actually work during the weekends, when there is a higher chance of a crime being perpetrated. Keep it up Sweden.
17:10 October 21, 2011 by tadchem
Sounds to me like *someone* is panicking because of what *they* are afraid *might* have happened.

Is there a statute of limitations on 'leaping to conclusions'?
09:56 October 22, 2011 by dobermann
One good example of this kind of ''activity''. There was one german homeless guy in Stockholm who spent the entire winter sleeping on the street in his sleeping bag. My friend knew that guy, so one day I asked him about that guy and he said, that poor german guy have bought some booze for teenagers and police caught him.He got almost 1 year prison sentence.. I barely imagine how that guy was feeling. This is kind a strict law:)
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