Russians are blamed for spate of SPEED CAMERA thefts in Sweden, which could be stripped for drones

Thieves work in the middle of the night, extracting dozens of sophisticated speed cameras from roadside posts across Sweden – but who is behind the mysterious thefts?

One bizarre theory that has emerged is that Russia is behind the disappearance act, using Sweden’s speed cameras to build homemade drones to be deployed in Ukraine.

Swedish officials were left scratching their heads after 70 of Sweden’s signature blue fartkameror, used to enforce speed limits of 70-90 km/h, went missing in Stockholm and Uppsala over an eight-day period in August.

The nighttime attacks stopped in September but were picked up again this month with 80 additional speed cameras, each costing 250,000 Swedish kronor (£19,780).

The devices contain the highly advanced camera, a flash, radar and a processor – all of which could be used in a drone.

Thieves work in the middle of the night, extracting dozens of sophisticated speed cameras from roadside posts across Sweden – but who is behind the mysterious thefts?

Russia is now being blamed for the attack after the recent discovery of a camera of a similar type to those used in Swedish speed cameras was found in a homemade Russian drone sent to spy on Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has previously posted a video online of a crashed Russian drone being taken apart. It showed a Canon camera, similar to the Swedish speed camera, attached to the drone with a strip of Velcro.

Swedish police said speed cameras have been vandalized in Sweden in the past – but sporadically and by disgruntled drivers who have received speeding fines.

But the sheer magnitude of these targeted attacks on the speed cameras has led some to theorize that Russia could be behind it.

Lars Wilderang, author of a popular Swedish military blog, has speculated that the crippling technological sanctions imposed on Russia by the West have forced Moscow to find creative solutions to access components they can use for military equipment.

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“The thieves come from somewhere, but the buyers come from someone else,” Wilderang said. “You don’t do this kind of big systematic theft unless you have someone who orders the products.”

Local police say the systematic thefts are completely different from what they have seen before.

Russia is now being blamed for the attack after a camera similar to Swedish speed cameras was recently found in a homemade Russian drone sent to spy on Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has previously posted a video online of a crashed Russian drone being taken apart. It showed a Canon camera, similar to the Swedish speed camera, attached to the drone with a strip of Velcro.

Jonas Eronen, a police spokesperson for Region Mitt, which has seen a spate of speed camera thefts, told New York Times that previous vandals would be “someone angry because they got a speeding ticket.” They would “either spray the lens or knock it over,” he added.

“But in recent weeks someone has systematically broken into these cabinets and looted the contents, grabbed the camera and dumped the rest at the crime scene,” Eronen said.

Hans Liwang, an associate professor at the Norwegian Defense Academy, told Swedish media that the stolen cameras could potentially find their way to Russian drones through a growing black market.

But skepticism remains as to whether Russia uses Sweden’s speed cameras, which include custom Nikon cameras, to build or repair their drones, as Ukraine has only found drones with Canon cameras.

The Nikon cameras used in Sweden shoot from 15 meters away, meaning the lens will be out of focus at any other distance.

‘According to our supplier, this cannot be adjusted. Not easy, at least,” says Eva Lundberg, national coordinator for the traffic camera system at Trafikverket, the country’s transport agency.

Merry

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