Police Botched Helicopter Robbery Response

A former police superintendent has criticised the handling of a high profile robbery in Västberga, in the outskirts of Stockholm, last September when a criminal gang used a helicopter to break into a cash depot.

“The operation took too long,” former police superintendent, Eric Rönnegård, told the news agency TT, adding that the police made a number of serious mistakes.

“The commanding officer took decisions too late. He waited too long to put the plan for serious incidents into operation.”

Rönnegård referred to a report on the incident which reveals that it took police an hour and 19 minutes to respond to the robbery and to authorise armed officers to use their weapons. It was more than three hours before a decision was made to set up border checks and the police hotline for tips was reportedly in disarray for 37 hours after the robbery.

One of the most embarrassing aspects of the foiled police operation involved a bag marked “bomb” which was left beside the police helicopter, grounding it during the entire getaway.

Rönnegård, a former police chief with experience of special police operations, said the mishandling of the helicopter robbery was not an isolated case.

“The police chiefs’ tardiness and incompetence is repeated time and time again when something serious happens,” he said.

Stockholm County Police Commissioner, Carin Götblad, declined to comment on the criticism and said that the police will carry out a review of the incident and of police practice once the investigation into the robbery is concluded.

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