Stockholm police announce extra resources to deal with wave of watch thefts

Police are bringing in extra resources and calling on the public to be vigilant after a "dramatic increase" in high value watch thefts in central Stockholm.

Stockholm police announce extra resources to deal with wave of watch thefts
The thieves have targeted owners of valuable watches from exclusive brands. File photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB scanpix / TT

So far in July, there have been 136 reported watch thefts in the Stockholm region, including 64 in Stockholm city itself. That compares to 79 thefts in the city over the whole of 2018.

Many of these have taken place in the affluent business district of Östermalm, with many of the thefts occurring in the stairwells of victims' apartment blocks, according to police.

Some of the perpetrators have threatened victims with weapons, and in some cases they are thought to have identified victims through social media posts and posed as couriers to lure them to the stairwells.

“We are seeing a clear increase in this type of crime. This robbery is difficult to prevent and investigate as some of them appear to be relatively well-planned. We need the public's help in finding out who is behind the various robberies,” police investigator Daniel Horner said in a statement. 

Police said that they would be prioritizing this kind of theft in response to the increased reports, which means among other things that more units will be working on this type of crime. In late June, two men were detained on suspicion of carrying out several watch thefts. 

Police have advised the public to avoid showing off expensive items in public on social media, especially when it can easily be traced back to you, and to make sure that building doors are closed after you enter.

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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.