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    Easy Pickings: Sweden Becomes 'Smorgasbord for International Crime'

    CC0 / Peter Isotalo /
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    With its lenient penitentiary system and low border controls, Sweden has effectively become a magnet for organized crime flocking to the Nordic country. They have one and only one intention, to rob the wealthy Scandinavian country blind.

    In recent years, Sweden has been plagued by organized crime pilfering goods and selling them abroad. According to a police forecast, the situation is set to deteriorate further.

    In the police report "Mobile Organized Crime" more international crime networks are likely to establish themselves in Sweden, where the "market" for imported crime is currently dominated by Lithuania, Poland and Romania. Other Baltic States, Bulgaria, Georgia and Caucasian nations also have a marked presence.

    "There are various groups stealing goods and smuggling them outside of the country. These are a really motley crew of various nationalities. I have personally encountered Caucasian networks that steal enormously in Sweden," police inspector Bo Löf of the National Operation Unit (NOA) told Swedish national broadcaster SVT.

    In 2015, police registered about 22,800 burglaries in Sweden, a nation of 10 million. International gangs accounted for between a third and a half of these, the police estimated. In case of theft of boat motors, car details and agricultural machinery, a clear majority of the crimes is being committed by international networks.

    According to the report, the international networks have grown exponentially in recent years and have created a broad infrastructure of middlemen, nooks and transport channels. This scheme of "division of labor" reportedly even includes Swedish and European companies.

    Yet another feature of this international crime is their increasing connections with their Swedish peers, which is interpreted as a token of their "sustained development."

    "I have been working with this for many years and of course I'm getting a bit desperate. This is hard to counteract. Of course, many end up in jail, but unfortunately it's like they come to Sweden if it were a smorgasbord, they eat off it and go away," Bo Löf said.

    Löf did not find it particularly surprising that gangs frequent Sweden to commit crimes.

    "It is being circulated among these groups that Sweden is a fairly easy country to steal in. Fines are low, and it is easy to enter both the EU and Sweden, as we have basically open borders," Löf argued, citing mild punishment and the police's increased focusing on felonies as other contributing factors.

    One of the most blatant examples of international criminal cooperation in action includes the burglary of the Swedish postal operator Postnord's trucks, during which tablets, computers and mobile phones to the tune of $300,000 were stolen and later shipped to Romania for sale.

    "We've seen it before. Sometimes you manage to track down the stolen goods somewhere outside Sweden's borders," Postnord Security Manager Alexis Larsson told SVT.

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    Tags:
    crime, organized crime, Scandinavia, Sweden
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