What its Like to Be a Store Owner in Sweden – 7 Burglaries so Far This Year

She has Had 43 Burglaries in Her Shop – “I Can Barely Stand it Anymore”

43 burglaries and no one was caught. The crimes against Eva Nyvall’s store are getting worse. The staff needs psychological help but she refuses to give up on the escalating crime. In an in-depth report, the entrepreneur Eva Nyvall tells how she keeps the whole area on her shoulders without getting help from either the police, the municipality or anyone else.

– Those who think that the increasing insecurity only applies to big cities and their suburbs think wrong, says Eva Nyvall, who runs the Ica store Nyvalls Livs.

In the middle of the Värmland countryside is the small community Bäckhammar with almost 300 inhabitants. With just over 20 km from Kristinehamn, it is an isolated village that year after year has lost more and more of the service that was here before.

Eva Nyvall’s store is the only remaining store in the area. But she remembers what it was like when she started it 31 years ago.

– In 1989, when I took over the store, this was a prosperous and safe community. Here was not only this shop, but also a post office, a savings bank, a men’s hairdresser and a women’s hairdresser. Now only I am left, she says.

43 burglaries – already 7 this year

She calls it “the village that the police forgot”, and this is especially true for developments in recent years. During her 31 years, she has had 43 burglaries and it has escalated significantly in the last year alone. So far this year, she has had seven burglaries (as of September 19). And they have become more coarser.

– I had a burglary on June 8 that scared me and the staff when it was so well planned. Here was a real safe that I took over from the time when more entrepreneurs were active here. The criminals managed to get the whole safe with them. They had worked three hours inside the store at night and entered the staff room and managed to dismantle the alarms.I had to buy psychological help for the staff

The incident made both her and the staff feel very insecure and she needed to take a number of measures.

– I have had thieves inside the store who have threatened the staff before and I have had a long series of well-planned burglaries where the thieves have taken mail packages and tobacco. This somehow became the final drop and it took both me and the staff very hard. They had worked so professionally. They had been here and reckoning and knew where everything was. I had to buy psychological help for the staff, says Eva Nyvall.

Not a single person has been convicted

The most common type of burglary in Eva’s store is otherwise that a couple of three people stay outside the store at night. A person breaks in and takes with them as many postal packages, cigarettes and snuff as they can get with them and then leave.

She needs to report every crime to the police in order to get money out of the insurance. But apart from that, she thinks it is completely pointless to report the crime. Not a single person has been convicted of a crime for all 43 burglaries.

– The police usually know who they are. They have said that. But like damned, they return and make new burglaries. The last three burglaries they think are about the same perpetrators. It is strange that it does not seem to have any consequences for them, she says.

She describes the frustration of repeatedly seeing the police put a lot of work into the technical investigation, even though it does not lead anyone arrested. 

– When I report the crime, the technicians usually come here. They work on it just like that, and brush and stuff. In the meantime, I have to close the store, which is frustrating, because I still know what it will result in and it costs money to keep the store closed. After a week, a letter arrives with the words: “The preliminary investigation is closed. Reason: there is no longer any reason to complete the preliminary investigation ”. The same thing every time, says Eva Nyvall.I have not finished the paperwork for a single one of this year’s burglaries, because I can barely stand it. It’s so fucking hard.

For each burglary, she must pay a deductible consisting of a quarter of the price base amount, which corresponds to almost SEK 12,000.

– The deductible itself is expensive. But even more expensive is actually all the paperwork that takes time and effort. I have not finished the paperwork for a single one of this year’s burglaries, because I can barely stand it. It’s so fucking hard, she says.

Now she has invested in extra grilles and acquired a new safe that will be even more burglar-proof than before. All that also costs money.

Refuses to give up – the whole area on its shoulders

But despite all the adversity with the “mischief”, she refuses to give up. In order to make the store survive in the small town, she has always been keen to develop her business. Among other things, she has catering and a lunch restaurant for the village’s large employer, Nordic Paper. She has created a small petrol station adjacent to the store for the sake of service and to draw customers into the store. And the latest is that she has created a small market hall in the property, with a liquor license.

– I have always worked like crazy and to make a business survive in such a small cave, you have to be inventive, she says. But at the same time, she has seen how the small town has suffered from increasing insecurity in recent times.

– This summer it was downright deplorable. There were fights with axes in the streets here and they chased each other with quad bikes. It’s pure anarchy and I suspect it’s about drug deals. Recently, a kilo of amphetamine was seized on the outskirts of Bäckhammar, says Eva Nyvall.

Good control on the criminals

With her 31 years in the town, she has a pretty good idea of ​​who the criminals are. Many of them come in and shop and sometimes she talks to them.

– They come in and seem to have a lot of cash in their pockets. When there has been a burglary here and the police are here and brushing, one of them can say “you do not think it was me, Eva?”. Sometimes I hear the names of people. It has happened that I have told the names to the police. But that has not helped either, she says.

She says that large parts of the property portfolio in Bäckhammar were bought up by an owner in another place some time ago, after which they let the municipality rent in to place people who do not have the opportunity to live elsewhere. A form of social dumping, she says.

We have brought a lot of people here with social problems. This has led to great insecurity for those who have lived here for a long time. I wonder what would happen if I closed my shop and if ordinary people no longer had reason to stay here in our small center, she says.

Gets no help

She has turned to the municipality for help, among other things with support for investments in cameras, but not a single penny in support she has received from there.

– It would be very expensive for the municipality if I closed down. They have a responsibility for supplying goods to the inhabitants here. In the neighboring village of Pori, the old Coop store closed down a few years ago. There it is completely dead. I arrange bus transports from there and here so that they can shop, she says.  

Marie Oudin (M) is a municipal councilor in Kristinehamn municipality. She sees that insecurity has increased, not only in little Bäckhammar, but also inside Kristinehamn.

– We have ruled for two years and went to the polls for more security guards in the center due to the increased insecurity. We have had a lot of chaos in the center with youth gangs, car fires and stone-throwing against the police, she says.

She also describes how the municipality has been concerned about little Bäckhammar’s development and has also taken certain measures.

– I know there has been concern there. We now have to move the bus station closer to the city center, because many people think it is unsafe to walk a short distance to get on and off the bus, she says.   I understand her frustration and it is frustrating for us in the municipality as well

She is well acquainted with Eva Nyvall and her activities in the small community of Bäckhammar and thinks that she makes a very important contribution.

– I have visited her several times. She protects the area incredibly much and is very driven. I understand her frustration and it is frustrating for us in the municipality as well. But we are not a police authority. As a Moderate, I want to get more resources for the police. They work as hard as they can, but what good is it when a store owner is bleeding in this way, it is terrible, says Marie Oudin.

But Eva Nyvall feels that the municipality has also left her in the lurch. She has never received any financial help from the municipality and she describes an area that can almost be described as a social dumping site, where addicts and socially disadvantaged people are housed.

– I do not know much about that problem. I know that we needed to fill up quickly when we got a lot of space shortages in Kristinehamn when we received a lot of refugees a few years ago. But I’m not aware that there would be any social dumping there, where addicts are locked up. But we work hard with the social difficulties. We see this in the number of children in care in our municipality, which is only becoming more and more. A tragic development, says Marie Oudin.  

As a Moderate politician, she is generally concerned about the development of the small towns and does not think that the governing parties do what is required.

– The small towns are extremely important, but the budget that the government presented the other day, there was not much left over for the police and prosecutors, she says.  

Fredrik Lundberg is a municipal police officer in Kristinehamn and well aware of the crime that has affected Eva Nyvall recently, but at the same time wants to tone down the situation.

– She has clearly had more burglaries this year than before. But she has also had some years lately as she has not had any burglary. What can be said in general is that you run a greater risk of being exposed to another burglary when you have already been affected, says Fredrik Lundberg.

But this is about 43 burglaries in 31 years and seven of them in the last nine months alone. That’s a furious development, isn’t it?

– Yes, she has been hit hard. We have also been there and helped her together with ICA’s head of security and looked at crime prevention. We have looked at how to install shell guards and such. There are also large trees there that obscure, which you could fix.

Wouldn’t it be better to pick up the perpetrators? None of the crimes has led to any perpetrator being arrested.

– No one has been convicted in any case, that is the only thing I can answer.

What does it depend on?

– To be convicted, it is required that it must be beyond all reasonable doubt and then the evidentiary requirements are very high.

Eva Nyall says that she has a fairly clear idea of ​​who they are and that she has told this.

– We have a legal system to follow. We arrest many and have many detainees. But it is not up to us to decide whether they should be detained or detained. The prosecutor and the district court do that. But it is not just the police who can do something about it. Today, 22 percent of all students who graduate from ninth grade are not eligible for upper secondary school. If there are many who do not pass compulsory school, more will end up in crime. You have to work more with parental responsibility as well.  

But it is a small consolation for Eva Nyvall, that you have to start working with school children. It only takes place many years into the future, does it?

– But we have also been on site and discussed protective equipment.

Can the police do more to leave her alone?

– We work with two parts. On the one hand, the intervening activity, ie external service, where emergency calls are made. Secondly, the preventive activities where we work proactively. When we work interveningly, we must follow the existing legislation. Nowadays, we have the opportunity to make so-called PL19 visits when we search for dangerous objects and suspect drug crimes. But catching a person in the act in a burglary is very difficult. And tying someone up for a burglary is also very difficult within the framework of the law.  

– We need to expand the entire legal system in that case. The more active thieves who receive a prison sentence, the less time they are out and can commit new crimes, he continues.

What do you think will happen if the village’s only shop closes?

– It’s not good. When talking about insecurity issues, it is important that you work on how to get ordinary people out in the public space. It can be one of the most crime prevention measures one can take. It also prevents other crimes such as robbery and rape. A store is important for a vibrant and safe center. Eva does an important job. I am both impressed and surprised that she has endured as long as she has done. As a municipality, you must probably be prepared to lose your grocery store

Per Geijer is head of security at the employers’ organization Svensk Handel. He has long warned of a development where security in districts increases when shop owners leave the city center.

– Eva Nyvall has been affected by extreme vulnerability, but this is unfortunately becoming more common. I am both impressed and surprised that she has endured as long as she has done. As a municipality, you must probably be prepared to lose your grocery store if this does not get better, says Per Geijer.

Seriously if the store disappears

He believes that the consequences can be very serious for small communities if the stores disappear.

– The existence of a store is extremely central to keeping a village alive and safe. The area lives on the fact that there is a central trade, a meeting place, a package agent. This in turn means that the center is populated by ordinary law-abiding people. If it is not there, it will be dark and quiet. Then it will be a perfect place for these leagues to ravage, he says.  

He is also critical of how the police force has thinned out year after year in relation to the development of crime.

– There must be a police resource somewhere that has at least a theoretical opportunity, desire and energy and willingness to go on a burglary alarm, he says.  

He does not give much for the budget that was laid down and the promises that the government has given regarding more police officers.

– There are beautiful promises of 10,000 new police officers, and more. But they have failed miserably and they have misjudged how difficult it is to recruit them. The increase in gang crime in the suburbs of big cities is currently draining the countryside of police officers. A large part of Sweden is left in the lurch, says Per Geijer.  Bäckhammar is an example of more places with similar problems

fPlus talks to another police officer who has been active in Kristinehamn and the surrounding area for almost 40 years. His name is Stefan Wickberg and he sees a Police Authority that is no longer able to take care of the people in the countryside.

– Bäckhammar is an example of more places with similar problems. As a police officer, I am disappointed that for many years no attention has been paid to this issue. The police have left far too much of their local roots, is my opinion and I know that most of my colleagues agree, he says.   

– Today can be hell for entrepreneurs in rural areas, to put it bluntly. It is very worrying that the conditions for conducting business activities must be different depending on the location. There is a lot of talk about increased police resources to places like Rinkeby and Tensta. But we are forgetting the old mills that are increasingly starting to have a similar problem, says Stefan Wickberg.

Source: fPlus

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