February 8, 2023

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Theft of radars on roads may be linked to the war in Ukraine

STOCKHOLM – Thieves strike on city streets Sweden In rural areas, usually between midnight and 3 am. They use brute force, sometimes a hacksaw, or break into their loot boxes: high-tech speed-surveillance cameras.

After a brief hiatus in September, the thefts resumed and police are now investigating a total of 160 cases. Each camera can cost up to $22,000 to replace and repair the damage.

The reason for the robbery remains a mystery. Can thieves who specialize in high-tech equipment steal a hard-to-get item? Or are drivers tired of Big Brother surveillance and wanting to put their feet up, catching them amid the solitude of interior roads?

A car on the road near SŠvsjš, Sweden on August 6, 2014. There are more than 2,300 cameras scattered across the country’s roads. Photo: Alexander Mahmood / NYT

Perhaps the most intriguing theory circulated in local reports is this: the cameras could be used on military drones. Russia Amidst their difficulties with the equipment War with Ukraine.

Eva Lundberg, national coordinator of the camera traffic monitoring system at national transport agency Trafikverket, said thieves of speed cameras destroyed 70 units in eight days across Stockholm districts and Uppsala.

“Then in September, the thefts stopped completely,” he said, adding that a second wave began in mid-October.

The pole-mounted boxes contain a flash, radar, an app and a valuable camera. “They just take the camera,” Lundberg said. “They act very quickly.”

In 2006, Sweden began installing traffic surveillance cameras on rural roads where speed limits vary from 70 to 90 km/h. There are currently 2,300 speed cameras installed across the country. Drivers who are photographed speeding over the limit receive fines by mail.

The theory that the war in Ukraine will encourage looting is linked to Russia’s severe shortage of critical military components as the country faces crippling embargoes on technologies.

Military writer and blogger Lars Wilderang has speculated that the sanctions could force Russia to find creative solutions to acquire components for military equipment such as drones. “Thieves come from one place, but fences come from another,” he said. “No one would commit a legitimate theft of this magnitude unless someone ordered the product.”

Until the recent wave of thefts, the worst thing that happened to these security cameras was that they became the target of occasional vandalism by “someone who got angry about getting a speeding ticket,” Jonas Eronen said. Company, three districts affected area Mid Police. Vandals typically attack newly installed units by “covering the lenses with spray paint or dropping them.”

“But in recent weeks, someone has been systematically breaking into boxes protecting the equipment, stealing their contents, taking cameras and dumping the rest near the crime scene,” he said.

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Eronen said an international criminal network could be behind the robberies. Swedish police have long battled similar crime waves, in which groups of thieves from abroad target certain types of items: boat engines, car catalytic converters, GPS units or even horse saddles. Thieves then take the goods abroad to sell.

“Swedish feast has a different meaning for these gangs,” Eronen said.

Crimes are difficult to solve because by the time the police are called, the thieves have usually fled to another area or fled the country. But police have not ruled out the possibility of local criminals participating, he said.

As of Friday, the Swedish Police Commission was investigating the theft of 160 speed cameras, company spokeswoman Anna Engelbert said in an email. “We cannot provide more information about these cases,” he said, citing the need to protect ongoing investigations.

But the exact motive behind the theft of these cameras has puzzled Traffickerket and the police. Custom Nikon cameras use Sweden to photograph drivers and license plates from 15 meters away. The lenses don’t focus at any other distance from the subject being photographed, Lundberg said. “According to our supplier, this focus cannot be fixed. At least not easily.” / Translated by Augusto Galile

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