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MONEY

Thieving teenage intern caught ‘blue-handed’

After thousands of kronor kept disappearing from the petty cash supply at a company in south central Sweden, police laid a trap to catch the thief "blue-handed".

Thieving teenage intern caught 'blue-handed'

Police in the town of Mjölby resorted to good old fashioned trickery when it came to catching the suspected thief in the act.

They added an invisible powder to the cash that would turn blue when touched with moist fingers.

The rub: if anyone handled the money, their fingers would turn blue the minute they washed their hands.

Just days after laying the trap, staff noticed a teenage intern walking around the company with both blue hands and a blue nose, unwittingly revealing himself as the culpable criminal.

While police admitted it was a long shot and an “unusual” method, they were glad to put an end to the company’s petty cash problem.

“It was a successful outcome for both the employer and perhaps also the culprit. It was good that it was discovered. When this type of theft occurs at a company, there are many people who suffer from it,” said Göran Karlsson of the Mjölby police to the local Östgöta Correspondenten newspaper.

Karlsson told the paper that while the dye wasn’t permanent; it takes a lot of effort to clean it off one’s fingers, something the teenager apparently hadn’t considered to be worth the trouble.

While the fleet-fingered thefts occurred between August and October last year, the blue-fingered intern wasn’t made to face the law until Thursday, when he admitted to the robbery of 22,000 kronor ($3,323), and was duly charged with theft.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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MONEY

Your January budget: Five ways to save money in Sweden this month

It's the start of the year and the end of the indulgence of the holiday season. Here's how to try to claw back some space in your wallet in Sweden.

Your January budget: Five ways to save money in Sweden this month

Take inventory of your bills

The start of the year is a good time to go through your regular bills and see if there’s a way you can save money there. Don’t forget to check your direct debit (autogiro) payments to see if you’re paying money for subscriptions you no longer use. Here are some more tips for reducing your regular bills.

Buy seasonal food

Seasonal produce is usually cheaper – and better for the environment.

Things to look for in Swedish grocery stores in January include: Green kale, Brussels sprouts (added bonus: they’re usually priced down after Christmas), turnips, carrots, swedes, red beets, red cabbage, white cabbage, artichokes, onions and apples. These are grown in Sweden and can be bought fresh this time of the year.

Aubergine, oranges and lemons, kiwi, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and fennel are in season in other parts of Europe.

Get a cheaper deal on your electricity

Electricity prices soared to record levels in Sweden last year, and they’re expected to remain high in 2023 too.

Compare the prices of various electricity companies at price comparison sites, such as Elskling, and don’t be scared of calling your company to negotiate.

Swedish houses are generally well insulated, so in the shorter term, save money by turning your heating down just slightly, making sure your dishwasher and washing machine are full before turning them on, and having shorter showers. Here’s The Local’s guide to how to dress to keep warm in the Swedish winter.

The cost of electricity depends on your living situation. Electricity tends to be the most expensive in southern Sweden, and your bills are likely higher if you own a house rather than an apartment. If you’re staying in a sublet or an apartment housing association, it is possible that the cost is included in your monthly rent, or avgift, if you own your property.

Save money on your gym membership

Who hasn’t joined a gym the weeks after New Year’s Eve? The downside is they’re expensive, so the best way to save money is not to join a gym at all. Instead, look out for outdoor gyms (utegym – they look like a wooden playground) scattered across Swedish cities and free running and exercise groups in your area.

In January, you ask. Yes, in January. Even in the snow? Yes, then too.

Pavements are often kept clear of snow in Sweden and you will see people exercising come rain, snow or shine. Just remember to dress right (not too warm, but gloves and a hat are sensible) and invest in a good pair of ice studs for your running shoes – it’s a one-time cost that will pay off in the long run.

If you do want to go to the gym, it’s worth asking your job if they can pay for your membership as a friskvårdsbidrag (health contribution), a tax-exempt benefit that many employers offer in Sweden and means you can get money to put towards a sports activity of your choice (no more than 5,000 kronor per year).

Make the most of the end-of-year sales

The post-Christmas sale (mellandagsrean) might still be ongoing in some shops with prices dropping lower and lower. Have a think about what you need to buy for the year ahead in terms of things such as clothes, electronics or furniture, and then go online to see if you can find what you need at a reduced price. The key is to plan your purchase before you go shopping and not let yourself be tempted by things that seem great at the moment, but won’t be needed or wanted six months from now.

Off-season items are often the cheapest, so buy your summer clothes now, or even your winter boots for next year. Or better yet, don’t buy anything at all. Maybe it’s cheaper and more sustainable to fix things you’ve already got. There’s also a booming second-hand market in Sweden where you can grab a bargain.

Did you buy or receive Christmas presents that weren’t quite right? Know your right to return items. This guide by The Local explains the rules in Sweden.

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