Swedish woman gets to keep junk room jackpot

A woman who found 85,000 kronor ($9,742) in cash in a garbage room in Stockholm and handed it into police has been allowed to keep the money – two and a half years after the discovery.

Swedish woman gets to keep junk room jackpot
The woman discovered the money in a bin bag in a garbage room. File photo: Alicia Fagerving/Wikicommons

The woman discovered the money in a bin bag in a garbage room in Skärholmen, to the south-west of the capital, in January 2013.

She then took the garbage bag and its contents to the police’s lost property department.

“In these cases you are supposed to hand the goods in to police as soon as possible,” the woman’s lawyer, Patric Lindblom, told The Local.

“If the owner does not get in touch with police within three months then the person who gave it to police should get the goods back.” 

The process was then delayed when officers launched an investigation into suspected money laundering the day after it was handed in. 

“But they closed the investigation within a day since there were no suspects,” said Lindblom.

READ ALSO: Swedes get ready for major bank note switch

However, with no similar cases to work from, police were then unsure how to proceed.

“They didn’t know what to do with the money so they didn’t re-register it as lost property,” the lawyer said.

Eventually, the woman took the case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, who criticized the police’s handling of the case, stating that the seizure should have been reverted to lost property.

Finally, in July, after two and a half years, the money was returned to the woman.

“She’s very pleased but of course she is quite upset that it took so long,” Lindblom said.

According to the lawyer, such cases are extremely unusual.

“I have never come across a similar case myself and have not heard of any colleague who has had a similar case either.”

“Normally if you bring lost property to the police you get it back after three months or the actual owner gets in touch with police.”

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What rules are there for wood burners and fireplaces in Sweden?

With the price of electricity and heating going up, many people in Sweden have turned to wood burners and fireplaces to help heat their homes and lower their heating costs. What rules do you have to bear in mind?

What rules are there for wood burners and fireplaces in Sweden?

What fuel can I use?

As a general rule, you should only burn dry wood. Guidelines from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency state that your wood must have dried for at least 6 months, in a covered outdoor location.

Once you’ve brought it inside, try to use it within two weeks – otherwise it can dry out too much, meaning it burns more quickly, produces less heat and more soot.

On the other hand, if your wood is too wet, this can also cause issues. It will produce a lot of smoke, will not burn well and will emit a larger amount of environmentally hazardous substances.

It is illegal to burn rubbish such as milk cartons or plastic, as well as impregnated or painted wood, chipboard and plywood.

Coal is rarely used for heating private homes in Sweden due to the environmental impact, although there are no official bans on burning coal in indoor fireplaces.

Keep in mind that many modern fireplaces or wood burners are not designed for burning coal, and older fireplaces may only be approved for burning wood, so make sure you check the recommendations for your heater if you plan on using coal.

On the topic of older fireplaces, make sure you check with your council or building owner whether you are permitted to use your fireplace before you light a fire. If it hasn’t been used for a number of years, you may need to schedule an inspection, where an expert will inspect your fireplace and chimney for any cracks or areas that need repairing.

When can I light a fire?

Depending on where you live, there may be rules on when you are allowed to light a fire if it is not your primary source of heating. This is usually referred to as trivseleldning – lighting a fire for cosiness or comfort, rather than necessity.

In Malmö, for example, you are only allowed to light fires in tiled chimneys (kakelugnar), open fireplaces or woodburners between October 1st and March 31st. Some municipalities – Malmö included – also recommend lighting a fire no more than twice a week, for a maximum of four hours at a time.

Anna Nordkvist, a chimneysweep in Västerås, prepares to swing a chimney brush into a chimney. Photo: Per Groth/TT/Scanpix

Stockholm and Gothenburg have no rules on what time of year you are allowed to light a fire, or how often, but all three city councils underline the importance of considering your neighbours and only lighting a fire on days where it is windy enough for the smoke produced to be sufficiently dispersed.

If you live in another area, try searching for elda inomhus, plus the name of your local municipality, to find out the rules where you live.

If you burn wood in a way that causes irritation to your neighbours, they have the right to complain to the local council’s environmental department, who have the power to issue you with a ban on using your fireplace.

How often should I clean my chimney?

Depending on whether you live in a house or apartment, you may be responsible for organising chimney-sweeping yourself, or this might be the responsibility of the owner of your building.

Usually, if your fireplace or wood burner is not your primary source of heating and you only use it occasionally, your chimney won’t need to be swept more than once every three years.

If you’re not sure when your chimney was last swept (either because you don’t use it very often or because you recently moved into your property), try contacting your local council or searching for sotare (chimney sweep) or sotning (chimney-sweeping), plus the area where you live for advice. Most councils have a list over the properties in their area with chimneys and when they were last cleaned, or they will refer you to their approved contractors who should be able to help you.