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Man who stole Swedish Crown Jewels sentenced to 4½ years in prison

Crown jewels stolen in broad daylight, an escape from a 12th century cathedral by motorboat, and a mystery that made international headlines. It sounds like something out of Ocean’s Eleven, but the drama ended this week when a man was sentenced with stealing some of Sweden’s priceless crown jewels.

Johan Nicklas Bäckström, 22, received a sentence of four-and-a-half years in prison by the Eskiltuna District Court for the crime.

Two crowns and an orb disappeared from Strängnäs Cathedral in July 2018. The historic cathedral, located about an hour from Stockholm, housed these jewels, which were funeral regalia dating from the 1600s.

They were created as funeral regalia for the tombs of King Charles IX of Sweden and his wife Queen Kristina and exhumed years later to be put on public display at the cathedral. Regalia such as these were created to show the wealth and rank of a person and either placed on top of a tomb or inside.

Strängnäs Cathedral altarpiece. Photo: Udo Schröter/Flickr

The jewels were estimated to be worth 65 million kronor (£5.3 million), but a police spokesman called them “invaluable items of national interest”.

The suspect was arrested in conjunction with the case back in September but denied his involvement. He later admitted his guilt after his DNA was found on the jewels, which were finally discovered in early February.

The stolen regalia were discovered by a security guard in Åkersberga, north of Stockholm. He found the damaged jewels in a rubbish bin that was marked “bomb.”

According to Swedish broadcaster SVT, who reported from the court, Backstrom admitted he cut himself when smashing the glass case housing the jewels.

In addition to the crowns and orb, he also was found guilty of the attempted robbery of three other royal objects left behind in the cathedral.

Backstrom did not name his accomplices, but two other people have been arrested in conjunction with the case.

The cathedral’s dean, Christofer Lundgren, said “the regalia need to be repaired as much as possible so a lot of work remains,” according to SVT.

Most of the Swedish crown jewels are kept under tight security in the vaults of the Royal Palace in Stockholm. But some of the funeral regalia is kept on display in Strängnäs, Uppsala and Västerås cathedrals.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.