Military on the scene. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Police have called upon the military for help and are scratching their heads as to how and why a man in southern Sweden managed to amass an arsenal of hundreds of weapons, 557 of which he had a licence to own.
Police were notified on Thursday that a 70-year-old man had weapons stashed in his home in Värnamo, south of Jönköping. When they arrived the next day, they were stunned to find hundreds of weapons and weapon parts, including grenades, guns, and ammunition.
"I've never seen anything like it in 26 years on the job," Björn Dahlbäck, chief inspector of the Jönköping police, told The Local.
Fearing an explosion, officers cordoned off the house and called in a bomb squad and the military for help. Closer inspection showed that the homeowner had actually had licences for 557 of the weapons, but questions have been raised as to whether such an extensive collection is nevertheless in breach of Sweden's weapon laws. The man is also suspected of breaching Sweden's flammable and explosive item laws (brandfarliga och explosiva varor).
The day following the spectacular discovery, authorities decided to remove the weapons from the house, a job they estimated would take two weeks, partly because of the sheer number of weapons, and partly because of the potential safety risks.
On Wednesday, the military and police were still on hand, and scratching their heads as to how one man could have managed to collect so many weapons.
"We still don't know how many weapons there are. He has licences for 557, and we suspect he has at least that many, but we're not sure yet. The house is full of a lot of other stuff too. You could say he hasn't been doing the weekly cleaning," Dahlbäck explained.
The gun owner, referred to as "Bosse" by Sveriges Radio (SR), said that he had worked on his collection for 50 years via an "extensive contact network". He said he thought the police were "overreacting", and that their actions were the result of "ignorance and fear".
Most of the weapons are from the 60s and 70s, but some are from as early as the 1600s. But the chief problem has been the military weapons, details about which police refuse to elaborate on, as their presence initially raised fears of an explosion.
"I don't know what the risk is of the house exploding, but the military is here and they don't think it will. So for now, we're going to continue looking around the house and carrying things out," Dahlbäck told The Local.
And it doesn't seem likely that the gun owner will be reunited with his extensive collection, much to the irritation of the 70-year-old Swede.
"He won't be getting them back, and he's not very happy. But he is being very polite about it, he's a real gentleman," Dahlbäck said.