Source – Kidnaping concept. Exhausted model with tied hands © Wisky

Kidnappings in general are not a very common affair however they do unfortunately take place, and Sweden has had its fair share, that have been to say the least very unusual. So much so that Stockholm Syndrome, where a hostage develops positive feelings towards their captors, was named after Stockholm itself. As you have probably already guessed a kidnapping which took place in the 1970’s did just that.

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1963 – The Gevalia Daughter


In 1963 the kidnapping of a 7 year old girl occurred in Sweden. The young girl named Ann-Marie Engwall was daughter of Jacob Engwall, the Managing Director of Gevalia. Gevalia was at the time Europe’s biggest coffee roasting company and therefore a prime target for those looking for large sums of money. Ann-Marie who was making her way to school was taken by a man and a woman who claimed that they were going to drive her to a school trip she had just missed. The perpetrators, known as Ove and Gun who were holding her for a ransom fee of €1,500, took Ann-Marie to a zoo and a café as they waited.  Once the ransom money was collected they sent the little girl home in a taxi, who was tearful that she had to go alone. After returning home to her parents, Mr and Mrs Engwall contacted the police and the kidnappers handed themselves in later that same day. It came to light that Ove and Gun wanted the ransom money to set up their very own private detective agency, but after handing themselves in were instead sentenced to four years of hard labour. Despite their part in the kidnapping of a young girl both Ove and Gun prospered in later life with Ove becoming a senior official of a government agency and Gun making a career in the private sector.

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1993 – The Girl in the Box


In 1993 Ulrika Bidegard a Swedish Olympian was attacked by Lars Nilsson outside of her parents’ home in Belgium. Nilsson tied Bidegard up, silenced her and sedated her using paint thinner before taking her to his apartment in Brussels. Whilst carrying Bidegard up the stairs Nilsson dropped her onto her face causing her lips to burst open and then tied her to a homemade portable toilet within a box. Bidegard was forced to wear a blindfold over her eyes and headphones that cancelled out noise during her four days of captivity, and during this time was given little food and water. After using her credit card to make cash withdrawals police were able to locate where the Olympian was being held captive, leading to her release and the arrest of Nilsson. After being liberated from her box a ransom note arrived at the Bidegard estate the next day. Inside was a photograph of Ulrika tied up in her box and the demand of $500,000.

2002 – Erik Westerberg


In 2002 Erik Westerberg, son of a flourishing business executive, was kidnapped from his home in Stockholm by a man posing as a flower deliveryman. Erik had been featured that very year in an evening paper at the top of a list of wealthy youths, making it unsurprising that he was targeted for the kidnapping.  Like Ulrika, Erik was also placed in a box before being moved to a cottage on an Island just outside of Stockholm. Once there Erik was chained to a bed and held at ransom for €1,000,000 in cash. The kidnappers demanded that the money be tied to a wire below a bridge outside of Paris, and it was Erik’s father himself who did this.  After receiving the money they freed Erik and sent him on his way with a packet of cigarettes and a box of matches. Erik was found by authorities after smoking around three cigarettes and the captors were arrested soon after.

2005 – Fabian Bengtsson  


It would seem that kidnappings in a box are becoming somewhat of a thing in Sweden, with yet another person held captive in one.  On the 17th January 2005 Fabian Bengtsson, the heir to the leading Nordic chains for consumer electronics, SIBA, was attacked in his garage with teargas. Fabian was crammed into a TV box and then transferred into a soundproof wooden box once he had reached his destination. The wooden box was fitted with a mattress inside for him to sleep on, and it was here he was held captive for 17 days for a sum of €5,000,000. During his time in captivity the kidnappers began to grow fond of Fabian and began to cook for him and wash his clothes. They even allowed him to drink whiskey with them and join in games of cards. After spending two weeks together the kidnappers were overcome with guilt and released him. Soon afterwards the captors were arrested thanks to a number of mental notes that Fabian had recorded, including noises he heard whilst locked up.

2011 – Alexander Ahman


Alexander Ahman like many of those kidnapped was the son of a wealthy businessman. He was kidnapped in 2011 by his housemate, her presumed boyfriend and another friend after they gave him a pie containing sedatives. Once asleep the kidnappers tied him up and put him into the back of van where he was driven to an abandoned school building in Umea. Ahman was kept in a dark and unheated basement during his week of captivity, and was given little food, a thin mattress to sleep on and only beer to drink. The basement in which he was kept was so cold that Ahman was forced to tie nappies around his feet that he had found to retain any heat.  After four days in captivity his kidnappers used Ahman’s phone to pose as him and text his family. It is because of this that they were found. The family used the app “Find My iPhone” and the police were able to track him 2 days later.

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2015 – Dr. Martin Trenneborg


In 2015 Martin Trenneborg goes on a date with a woman at her apartment where he stays for two hours.  Before leaving he suggests that they meet again in two days’ time, to which she agrees to go on another date. What the woman is unaware of is that five years previous to her date in 2010, the very same man constructed a soundproof bunker with double security doors and electric locks in a shed next to his country home. On their second date the pair drink champagne and the Dr. feeds her Rohypnol-laced strawberries, resulting in her becoming intoxicated and beyond understanding. After asking her to put on a nappy he rolls her out to his car in a wheelchair and puts her into the passenger’s seat. He then sedates the woman every hour of a 7 hour drive by injecting her with sedative drugs. After some time the woman wakes up and finds herself in the bunker that Trenneborg had constructed years earlier. The Dr. informs the woman that she is to stay in his bunker for a few years where she will cook for him, keep him company and even partake in intercourse with him. After only 5 days of abduction the Dr. offers to drive the woman back home so that she can gather some of her belongings and bring them back with her. Before leaving he coaches her to pretend that they are a couple and she complies giving him reassurance. A note on her apartment door from the police saying the locks have been changed leads to them visiting the station to sort the matter out. During this time she is separated from her captor and it is then that she informs them of what has really happened.  The police arrest her kidnapper immediately and sentence him to ten years in prison.

There are many ways people at risk of kidnap can significantly reduce the risk of being abducted by adopting a few simple countermeasures. If you would like any advice or guidance in this matter then please give us a call on 0207 118 1168. Confidentiality is assured.


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