by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Annika Backe
November 23, 2017 – Anyone who ever visited a coin shop or a coin cabinet knows that the objects’ security is first of all ensured by the trust placed in the staff and their visitors. The Royal Coin Cabinet of Stockholm was no exception. On Monday, October 31, 2017 the trial against somebody who had betrayed confidence began. Already during the summer a former employee had confessed to have stolen and sold 42 objects worth 1.2 million Swedish krona from the Royal Coin Cabinet and the Gothenburg City Museum.
“When you look at it objectively, it’s strange that so many valuable objects have been kept this way”, said Christina Paldin, who is investigating in this case. Stealing the objects was no problem at all. During the trial, a witness was asked how this could be done: “He/she would have just walked into the vault, taken what he/she wanted, especially if there was no inventory number.” It would have been easy to cover the tracks: all you had to do was steal the record cards of the coins and the photos in order to hinder the search for the stolen pieces. In fact, record cards for Russian and US coins are missing, where many pieces were taken. After all, the perpetrator was an expert and knew which coins sell particularly well on the market.
According to Eva Ramberg, head of the Coin Cabinet since 2012, all these security problems were resolved in the meantime. Now even the staff of the Coin Cabinet only has limited access to the vault, and researchers are joined by a staff member when working with coins.
However, apparently, another employee took advantage of the previous situation. He is the subject of ongoing investigations. Also charged is the coin dealer who bought the stolen coins.
One fact may surprise: the defendant became suspicious as early as 2013. An enthusiastic stamp and coin collector, he stole SEK 27,000 worth of stamps in a major Stockholm auction house in 2013. Following initial suspicion, the auctioneer, in cooperation with the police, had set a trap for him and caught him red-handed. Back then, the defendant paid GBP 100,000 to cover the cost of the stamps and was sentenced to an additional fine.
The 65-year-old defendant argued in his defence that he suffered from kleptomania and had used the thefts to finance his shopping addiction. As a matter of fact, when searching his flat, Police found hundreds of shirts, most of them still in their original packaging, and a large number of expensive English shoes.