A colleague of mine has left contract archaeology to work for the police as a civil utredare, that is, someone with a university degree who works on crime cases despite not being a policeperson. He told me a pretty neat story about Gubbligan, the Old Man's Gang.
The OMG were three professional bank robbers who never settled down. In the 00s they were in their 40s, 50s and 60s, and still they kept committing armed robberies across southern Sweden. The police were onto them and had begun to tap the gang's cell phones. This way they learned that the OMG had an arms stash out in the woods, where they had buried some pretty heavy weaponry and explosives.
The police now had a little problem. They weren't quite ready to arrest the gang, and if they dug up the stash they would alert their quarry. On the other hand, it wasn't very comfortable to let the gang keep their guns and explosives just like that. Then someone had a pretty neat idea.
The next time the OMG popped by to check on their stash out in elk country, they found it buried under half a ton of sugar beets. Across the clearing, just under the eaves of the woods, was a freshly built hunting stand.
The Old Man's Gang were apprehended in 2010 and are currently serving another one of their usual long jail sentences.
For more about the OMG, see Anders Svensson's blog.
Brilliant! That was excellent police work, and the story has a happy ending: bad guys go to jail. Presumably the OMG were charged with possession of illegal arms and explosives as well as their latest bank robberies?
I would have loved to see the expressions on their faces when they went to check their stash. "Oh No!, Sugar beets!"
Cellphones are a great benefit to law enforcement: a wiretap that follows the suspect around wherever he goes. No more having to tap their house phones and then worry about them using public pay phones when they're out and about.
But the question is, what was the purpose of the freshly-built hunting stand? Was it to create a bit of distraction, or provide some context for the pile of sugar beets ("there are more people doing more things in the area now"), or something else?
Here in the USA, bank robbers are usually pretty dumb. It sounds as if you have smarter bank robbers in Sweden, because they were able to make a career of it. But as long as the police are smarter than the bank robbers, it all comes out OK in the end!;-)
Hunters in southern Sweden drive loads of beets into the woods to help the elk survive the winter and to find them more easily come hunting season. Only reason you'll find beets in the woods.
Do they serve borscht inside Swedish nick? That would be cruel and unusual.
Heh. With elk bacon!
Aha!, that's the answer to "why the hunting stand?" The police made it out to look as if someone had set up a hunting stand and then deposited a nice pile of beets to keep the elk happy and fatten them up for the dinner table. All completely plausible and "a bad coincidence" for the OMG gang getting at their stash of weapons and explosives, all the more so because had they tried, they would have left obvious signs of moving the pile of beets.
Very very clever.