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OFFBEAT

Suspect: ‘I wanted to be like Tony Soprano’

A man has confessed to police in western Sweden that the hit US television programme The Sopranos inspired him to embark on a blackmail campaign featuring threatening letters and broken windows.

Suspect: 'I wanted to be like Tony Soprano'

After watching the HBO-produced television show, which features actor James Gandolfini as the title character Tony Soprano, the would-be gangster saw an opportunity to squeeze a small business owner in Hässelholm, western Sweden.

The man’s extortion campaign began in late January with a threatening letter sent to the business owner’s home.

The later warned that business owner needed to pay 30,000 kronor ($4,650), as well as 10 percent of the company’s turnover, if he wanted to avoid having his shop vandalized, the local Norra Skåne newspaper reported.

A short time later, a storefront window at the shop was smashed, followed by more threatening letters hinting that the broken window was a “taste of things to come”.

The business owner reported the incidents to police officers, who then decided to put his home under surveillance.

When the would-be gangster behind the threatening letters later turned up at the house to personally drop off the next missive in his blackmail campaign, police acted swiftly and arrested him.

The 19-year-old suspect had had previous run ins with the law. During questioning, he admitted to the crimes, telling officers he got the idea from The Sopranos.

TT/The Local/dl

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CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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