For the second time this year, a mass of thefts hit the roads of Sweden. The goal? The cameras are in automatic speed limit enforcement devices, which has led some experts to believe that the spree is being financed by Russia.
Sweden started In 2006, speed cameras were installed along rural roads, and since then the expensive technology has remained largely untouched. Sure, the occasional angry driver might knock over a pole or paint a speed camera lens, but until August of this year, Swedish authorities had seen no theft of equipment inside cars.
In accordance with The New York Times, 70 speed cameras were destroyed in just eight days in August. In October, thefts increased again, and in SVT.sealmost 150 speed cameras have been damaged in the last two months.
This is an immediate problem for the government, as the Swedish Transport Administration reports that replacing each camera costs around SEK 250,000 ($22,786 at the current exchange rate).
Crime can have more serious consequences. Unlike those earlier acts of vandalism, this recent wave of thefts has specifically targeted the cameras inside the speed control units, leaving other high-tech equipment like the radar and processor in the back.
The extent to which the thefts were directed at the cameras has led experts to wonder about the motives behind these thefts. Some show finger on Russiawhose invasion of Ukraine led to tech sanctions against him.
“Thieves come from somewhere, but buyers come from somewhere,” Lars Wilderang, a writer and war blogger, told the New York Times. “You don’t commit these large systematic thefts when you have someone ordering the groceries.”
Experts believe that Russia can install cameras, configured Nikon devices, in military equipment, for example, in drones. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, meanwhile, claims that the attacks on it involved hastily assembled drones with Canon cameras and plastic bottles turned into fuel tanks. Aftonbladet.
Swedish authorities, however, have not confirmed the connection between the thefts and the Russian military. For one thing, the lenses used in speed cameras are not adjustable and can only focus on something within 50 feet of them. Swedish policemeanwhile, they say they don’t want to speculate on what remains an open investigation.
“There is a lot of speculation. We don’t want to speculate about motives,” a police spokesperson told SVT. “We are conducting a preliminary investigation and will see what it is about. It cannot be ruled out that there will be more arrests.”