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Friday's papers: Failed heist, sexual harassment, immigration and retail woes

The press covers a variety of stories on Friday, with a big failed heist leading the news agenda. There's also space for a story on Russian border policy, Helsinki police and sexual harassment, and the effect of liberalised opening hours on retailers.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

The tabloids lead with yesterday's failed heist in which 5 or 6 armed robbers tried to steal a high-value cargo from a security van on the highway between Helsinki and Turku. The van was travelling towards Helsinki but was rammed by another vehicle, before the gang fired through the windscreen and forced the driver out. They did not, however, escape with the loot.

Iltalehti speculates that the gang took their lead from Sweden, where this kind of thing is much more common than it is in Finland. The paper also reports that one of the vans was rented last week from a company in eastern Helsinki--and that the customer was an elderly woman wearing a fur coat.

When the van wasn't returned on time last Friday, the company investigated a little further and discovered that the license used by the woman was reported lost several years ago.

Police suggest spot fines for harassment

This week the police announced that 15 of 16 investigations into sexual harassment alleged to have taken place on New Year's Eve have been closed. Police found it difficult to identify perpetrators and victims, and were left only with reports from bystanders in some cases. Even if they identify a suspect they cannot proceed unless the victim presses charges, and that left some Helsinki officers dissatisfied.

Lasse Aapio, a city police chief, tells Helsingin Sanomat that he may have a solution: on-the-spot fines for sexual harassment dished out by officers without recourse to the courts. That would get around the reluctance of some victims to advance the case, and allow police to intervene immediately in the situation, according to Aapio.

He told HS that he wanted to start a discussion, but also suggested that harassment become prosecutable without the victim's consent.

Russia stepping up border surveillance?

HS also has a story on Migrants in Russia who are hoping to cross into Finland. The so-called 'Russian route' has beeen well-used in recent months as the flow of asylum seekers through central Europe has slowed. In Finland there have been suspicions that the Russian authorities are turning a blind eye if not supporting the migrants as they head north-west towards the Finnish border in Lapland.

Hesari therefore finds it significant that the FSB just arrested 26 Afghans in Kandalaksha, Murmansk Oblast, on suspicion of illegal immigration (the story was first reported in Finland by Yle). Among the group are 11 children and 15 adults. The minors are in a care home in Kandalaksha and the adults are in detention facing the prospect of a year and a half in jail if convicted.

HS also cites Russian reports that among the group are an officer in an Afghan intelligence agency and an employee of the prosecutor's office.

Retailers' take down in January

Aamulehti has a lead story on grocery retailers' difficult January. Profits are down across the board, with the exception of supermarkets between 1000 and 2,500 square metres (they saw an uptick of 0.4 percent on January 2015), with the smallest stores bearing the brunt of the slowdown.

That's because after the government liberalised legislation on opening hours, they no longer have the advantage of being the only shops open on public holidays and after 9pm.

AL has a vox pop about shopping at Easter (most people don't want to, but some might go to the shop at Easter if they need something) and offers another explanation for the slow profits at hypermarkets: a campaign of discounting may have reduced the amounts taken by the bigger stores.

Sources: Yle News, Helsingin Sanomat, Iltalehti, Ilta-Sanomat, Aamulehti

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