Police investigate a robbery at a shopping center north of Stockholm. File photo: Vilhelm Stokstad / TT.
Police investigate a robbery at a shopping center north of Stockholm. File photo: Vilhelm Stokstad / TT.

Robbers switch tactics against new targets in Sweden

"Cash we can lock up but the goods have to be available to consumers"
2:19 min

In the first half of this year, there were more than 400 reported robberies in Sweden and retail industry groups criminals are changing their targets and tactics.

When you think of where robberies take place in Sweden, what usually comes to mind is a jewelry store, a bank or a currency exchange shop. But, according to retail industry groups, robbers are targeting different kinds of stores and with more violent tactics.

Of the 426 robberies reported during the first half of the year, roughly 45 percent of those were committed against grocery stores. And instead of heading for the cash register, thieves took things like meat, cosmetics, cigarettes or lottery tickets.

Per Geijer, heads up the security department at the Swedish Trade Federation, an employers' association for Sweden's trade and commerce sector.

He tells Swedish Television News that robbers, who earlier zeroed in on grocery store tills, have now realized that they can get more bang for their buck by stealing goods on the shelves.

And, Geijer says, stores have a harder time preventing such crimes.

"Cash we can lock up," he says "but the goods have to be available to consumers. That's why it's difficult for stores to protect themselves."

Stores also have a harder time fighting back because robbers are increasingly armed. Many are threatening staff with firearms but there's also been reports of axes, knives and needles being used in crimes.

Krister Colde serves as the work environment ombudsman at the Union of commercial employees. He says it's becoming more common for thieves to be armed and that the union has seen the number of robberies carried out with a firearm double since last year.

Colde adds he's worried that the industry will see it's first fatality soon.

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