International crime networks up their game in Sweden

International crime networks are increasing their presence in Sweden in order to further target households for break-ins, according to a new police report.

International crime networks up their game in Sweden
The thieves generally target small items of value. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The networks are already believed to be responsible for up to half of reported household burglaries in the country, according to the report which public broadcaster SVT had access to, and an increase in the future is expected.

Police say the thieves are generally from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Baltic region and South America. Well organized, with good economic resources and a clear structure, they are often controlled remotely from abroad.

“They are career criminals, they're not addicts, and they're men. They're between the age of 20 and 40 and consist of an inner core that have known each other for a very long time and have a long career of crime behind them,” Stefan Pettersson, international crime department spokesperson from Swedish Police National Operations Department (Noa), told SVT.

The thieves primarily target small valuable items that are easy to transport out of the country such as gold jewellery and watches. And some of the networks even work together both in Sweden and abroad, including loaning thieves to help cover shortages of personnel.

Police warn that the problem cannot be solved by Sweden alone, and that more cooperation between countries in the EU is needed to halt the progress of the networks.

A failed break-in attempt in Stockholm. Photo: Daniel Brace/Braceiller Productions

The methods used by thieves in Sweden aren't always sophisticated, as exemplified by half a dozen burglars who rammed a wheel loader into a Chanel store in Stockholm earlier this year. They failed to gain access to the premises.

READ ALSO: Smash-and-grab at Stockholm Chanel store

READ ALSO: Burglars break into Swedish home to eat ice cream


Swedish party leader calls for chemical castration of sex offenders

Sweden's Christian Democrats have called for tougher sentences for sex offenders and making release conditional on chemical castration.

Swedish party leader calls for chemical castration of sex offenders

The Swedish Christian Democrats (KD) leader has called for the chemical castration of certain sex offenders as part of plans for a tougher grip on sexual crime and punishment in Sweden.

Speaking to the Swedish parliament on July 1st, KD party leader Ebba Busch said, “Every day, 27 rapes are reported. How many days must pass before the government takes action?”

“Today we propose that rapists and people who commit sexual crimes against children should be able to be chemically castrated.”

The controversial chemical castration proposal was the headline grabbing soundbite in a broader set of proposals to recalibrate the structure of Sweden’s sexual crime sentencing.

Among KD’s proposed sentencing changes is a life sentence for the aggravated rape of a child, the removal of automatic conditional release for sex offenders, and an increase in the sentence for aggravated rape up to a maximum of 25 years.

In addition, they want a “monitoring period” for convicts who have been released, equivalent to one third of the sentence served.

They also want to establish a national knowledge centre for sexual violence where people who feel that they have “problematic sexuality” can receive support. The center must also “be able to administer chemical castration on a voluntary basis to those who are concerned about unwanted sexual thoughts and impulses and have a compulsive sexuality”.

READ ALSO: What’s the Swedish Christian Democrats’ abortion contract all about?

Chemical castration, she suggested, should be implemented as a condition of release for some sexual offenders. “It may mean that if a person like Nytorgsmannen is to be able to become a free man, a chemical castration must have taken place before the release,” Busch said, referring to Andreas Holm, a man sentenced in 2021 for 35 different crimes including 24 rapes.

But this is not the first time the Christian Democrats have toyed with the idea of chemical castration as a form of legal punishment. As far back as 20 years ago, under former leader Alf Svensson, the right-wing party raised the idea of conditional chemical castration of rapists and pedophiles.

At the time the proposal was rejected by all other parties.

Chemical castration, the process of preventing sex hormone production through chemicals, can reduce sexual libido but the effects on those with deviant behaviours are relatively unknown.

Chemical castration can also prove costly as it is not a one-off treatment but rather requires regular interventions, which means the police would be reliant on those sentences to chemical castration making regular trips to the authorities for further treatment.