Blue Banknotes from Kópavogur Robbery Reportedly in Circulation

police lögreglan

There are suspicions that attempts have been made to introduce blue-coloured banknotes into circulation. The banknotes originate from a robbery of a security van, which took place in Kópavogur five weeks ago.

A meticulously planned robbery

In late March, two individuals seized cases from a security vehicle transporting money in Kópavogur in the capital area. Employees of Öryggismiðstöðin, a security firm, were in the process of emptying slot machines at the Catalina restaurant in the Hamraborg area of Kópavogur.

In what appears to have been a meticulously planned robbery, the perpetrators swiftly manoeuvred a Toyota Yaris at high speed towards the Öryggismiðstöðin vehicle. Through breaking a window, they managed to snatch two cases filled with money and flee the scene. The entire incident transpired in a matter of seconds. According to the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police, the amount stolen was estimated at ISK 10-20 million [$73,000-145,000 / €67,000-134,000].

One of the cases was subsequently found empty in an open field in Mosfellsbær, with indications that a dye pack had exploded in the bag. As a result, the banknotes from that bag should be blue. As noted by Vísir, the recovered banknotes are in denominations starting from ISK 500.

Indications that the money is in circulation

Aside from finding one of the cases, the police seemed to have made little headway in their investigation. On April 19, detective Aðalsteinn Örn Aðalsteinsson appealed to the public to notify the police if they observed any of the banknotes from the robbery in circulation: “We are talking about blue-coloured banknotes. We encourage the public to inform the police if they spot such banknotes in circulation,” Aðalsteinn told Vísir on April 19.

According to an article in Vísir today, the police have received indications that some of the blue-coloured banknotes are now in circulation, at locations operating gaming machines, among other places. Aðalsteinn Örn observed that the investigation of the case remained at a very sensitive stage: “The police are not giving any statements at this time. We cannot comment on this matter as the situation stands now,” Aðalsteinn Örn told Vísir.

Child Murder Suspected in Kópavogur Case

Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson

A woman is in custody following the death of her six year old child on Nýbýlavegur in Kópavogur. The case is being investigated as a murder, Mbl.is reports.

“The woman is suspected of causing the death of the boy,” said Grímur Grímsson, chief superintendent with the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police. The woman lived on Nýbýlavegur with two of her children. The other child is being taken care of by child protection services. The father also lives in Iceland and has expressed his grief over his son’s death in a post on his Facebook page. Both parents have lived in the country for three to four years and have received international protection as refugees in Iceland.

Many questions unanswered

Police have not revealed the cause of death or why murder is suspected. Many people have already been questioned. “We can only hold a person for 12 weeks in custody, so we have the next few weeks to investigate,” Grímur said. “I expect that we’ll question more people and bring some back into questioning. This is to be expected in cases like this.”

Grímur also did not reveal the time of death. The only confirmed details are that the mother contacted police herself Wednesday morning and that when police arrived at the scene, the other child had left for school. The case is very sensitive to the community, the police have said, as it involves the death of a young child. The boy was a first grade student at Álfholtsskóli primary school and the school has subsequently activated its crisis response team.

As Cemeteries Fill, Reykjavík Residents Choose Cremation

With few plots available in Fossvogskirkjugarður and Gufuneskirkjugarður, the two cemeteries in the capital still open to the recently departed, an increasing number of Reykjavíkers are electing to be cremated. RÚV reports that continued construction delays on Úlfarsárdalskirkjugarður, a new cemetery long planned for the east side of Reykjavík, is not expected to be ready for use until 2030.

In 2019, Icelandic news outlets projected that Reykjavík residents who died between 2023 and 2025 and wanted to have a coffin burial would have no choice but to be laid to rest in nearby Kópavogur, as all of the plots in Fossvogur and Gufunes Cemeteries would be filled. At the time, it was said that the new cemetery wouldn’t be ready for use until 2025 at the earliest. Projections have now extended that date another five years.

See Also: Nondenominational Crematorium and Memory Garden to Open in Cpaital Area (Oct 2021)

Thus far, however, no Reykjavíker has had to relocate to Kópavogur in death. Ingvar Stefánsson, Managing Director of Reykjavík Cemeteries, says that this is due to the fact that an increasing number of people are opting for cremations. As such, there are still free grave plots available in Gufuneskirkjugarður. There are still columbarium niches available in both Fossvogur and Gufunes cemeteries.

“Gufunes Cemetery was supposed to be fully utilized by now, but will probably be full around 2030,” says Kári Aðalsteinsson, the horticultural director of Reykjavík Cemeteries. “We also have Kópavogur Cemetery and, of course, we have space there, and presumably will until Úlfarsárdalur Cemetery is ready.”

‘A work in progress’

Although current projections slate Úlfarsárdalur Cemetery to be ready for its first burials in 2030, budget cuts announced by the City of Reykjavík may delay the project even further. The cemetery is jointly funded by the municipalities of Reykjavík, Seltjarnarnes, and Kópavogur, but the majority of the cost is to be covered by Reykjavík.

Rúnar Gísli Valdimarsson, a civil engineer with the City of Reykjavík, says he believes it will be another three or four years before the park at Úlfarsárdalur is filled in with soil. After that, he says, there will still be a lot of work that needs to be done before the cemetery can be put into use. So he thinks the 2030 projection is accurate. “It’s kind of a work in progress, as one says.”

Four of Six Capital Area Mayors Not Up for Reelection

Big leadership changes will take place in the Reykjavík capital area in Iceland’s upcoming municipal elections. RÚV reports that four out of the six current mayors in the region will not be running. Municipal elections will be held across the country on May 14, 2022, and local and municipal council members in Iceland are now making up their minds on whether or not to run for another term. Both citizens of Iceland, as well as residents of Iceland who have lived in the country for five years or longer, can vote in municipal elections.

In the capital area, the mayors of Kópavogur (Ármann Kr. Ólafsson), Setjarnarnes (Ásgerður Halldórsdóttir), Garðabær (Gunnar Einarsson), and Mosfellsbær (Haraldur Sveinsson), have all announced that they will not be running in the May election. All four have been mayor in their respective municipality for over a decade, signalling a significant change of leadership for the region. Rekjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson announced earlier this month that he would be running for reelection, as will Rósa Guðbjartsdóttir, current mayor of Hafnarfjörður.

Foreign residents of Iceland who do not hold Icelandic citizenship but have lived in the country for five years or longer have the right to vote in municipal elections. Most information on voting requirements will be available as elections approach.

Fossvogur Bridge to Be Completed in 2024

Fossvogur bridge Borgarlína

The winning design of a new bridge that will connect Reykjavík and Kópavogur municipalities across the Fossvogur inlet has been revealed, RÚV reports. The bridge will be completed in 2024 and will not be open to private vehicles, rather will be exclusively dedicated to public transport vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. The winning design was completed by Icelandic company Efla Consulting Engineers in collaboration with UK-based BEAM Architects.

“The winning proposal provides for a bridge with a rapid cycling lane, for those who want to cross quickly, there are lanes for public transport and the Borgarlína rapid bus transit line in the middle, and on the other side there is a path for those who want to walk or cycle more slowly,” explained Bryndís Friðriksdóttir, regional manager of capital area projects at the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.

The bridge, named Alda (e. Wave) is part of an ambitious 15-year transport plan for the Reykjavík capital area that includes the development of a rapid bus transit line, called Borgarlína. Alda is the first major construction project associated with the new transit system. “It’s part of what we call the first phase of Borgarlína, which is the Borgarlína route that runs from Hamraborg to the city centre and connects Reykjavík University, the University of Iceland, and the National Hospital, and then onward from the city centre along Suðurlandsbraut up to Ártúnshöfði so it’s a big part of getting Borgarlína and the new bus system up and running,” Bryndís stated.

The full cost of the bridge is yet to be determined, but Bryndís says the next step will be to examine costs it in detail. It will be funded by the transport agreement between the state and capital area municipalities. The Borgarlína website shows a video simulation of the completed bridge. Read more about the Borgarlína project.

Iceland’s First Self-Checkout Tool Library Opens in the Kópavogur Library

Patrons of the Kópavogur Library are now able to borrow tools and equipment, just like they borrow books and media. This weekend, the Munsafn RVK Tool Library opened Iceland’s first self-checkout tool library, called Hringrásarsafn. According to the press release, the initiative is “based on a Circular Economy approach to consumption, which tackles UN Goal 12.”

Patrons will be able to borrow tools and equipment for a biannual or annual fee and “can then take tools/things home for repairs, projects, and hobbies.” Per the Munasafn RVK Tool Library website, six-month memberships cost ISK 7,000 [$54; €42] and full-year memberships ISK 12,000 [$91; €81], but discounted memberships are currently available given that the library extensions are in a launch phase. Items listed in the website inventory undoubtedly vary from that at the much smaller Kópavogur branch, but are indicative of the kinds of things that patrons will likely be able to borrow: tools like a circular saw set, wire strippers, an impact drill set, a car battery charger, and crowbar, as well as protective gear (a hard hat), and more unexpected items like a digital projector, camping equipment, and even a Nintendo system.

The Hringrásarsafn in the Kópavogur Library is the only one of its kind at present, but organizers have received a grant from the Ministry of the Environment to open more tool libraries in locations of the Reykjavík City Library in the future. As the press release continues: “With more self-checkout libraries available in the future, members can save money, storage space, and resources which helps the planet and aligns with Iceland’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The launch of Hringrásarsafn also coincides with the European Week of Waste Reduction. Learn more about the Munasafn RVK Tool Library on their website, here, or on Instagram.

Apartment Construction Hits 4.5-Year Low

iceland housing market

There have not been fewer apartments under construction in the Reykjavík capital area since February 2017, RÚV reports. If the trend continues, housing prices will continue to rise in the region. The main reason is a lack of plots, according to the Federation of Icelandic Industries (Samtök Iðnaðarins, or SI).

There are currently just under 3,400 apartments being built in the capital area. This is an 18% drop compared to the same time last year, when there were 4,100 apartments under construction. The biggest contraction is in Reykjavík, where apartment construction has dropped by 24%, and the smallest in Kópavogur, where it has contracted by 10%. Three out of every four apartments under construction in the capital area are in these two municipalities.

Read More: Iceland’s Housing Market

The combination of high demand and low supply pushes housing prices upward, which can be dangerous for the housing market. Ingólfur Bender, SI’s chief economist, stated the lack of building plots is the main issue. “That’s where the bottleneck is, as we have been pointing out for a long time. The municipal authorities have been twiddling their thumbs on this issue.” Ingólfur says the Central Bank’s decision to tighten mortgage regulations will lower demand, but supply is the root of the problem.

Brush Fires Break Out in Bone Dry Capital Area

brunasvæði sinubruni brush fire

Firefighters put out brush fires in Hafnarfjörður and Reykjavík yesterday, while police responded to several other reports of open flames kindled outdoors. Another fire occurred this afternoon in Kópavogur. Weather has been unseasonably dry in Iceland’s capital area in recent weeks and in other parts of the country. An uncertainty phase is in effect across South Iceland, West Iceland, and the Reykjavík capital area due to risk of forest and brush fires.

A brush fire broke out on Laugarnestangi in Reykjavík shortly before midnight last night. RÚV reports that one truck was sent to the scene and it did not take long to put the fire out. Another brush fire broke out in Hafnarfjörður between 2.00pm and 3.00pm yesterday, and took firefighting crews  around an hour to put out. The fire covered an area of around 600 square metres. Firefighters did not get a rest today, as another fire broke out in Guðmundarlundur grove in Kópavogur this afternoon. The fire is now under control.

Authorities Ask Public to Grill With Caution

South and West Iceland have received little precipitation in recent weeks, with mostly dry, sunny weather across the regions. Police declared an uncertainty phase in the regions after a forest fire scorched two square kilometres of Heiðmörk forest. No rain is in the forecast for the coming days. The Civil Protection Department has set up automatic text messaging to all those who enter South Iceland, warning of the risk of brush fires.

Authorities implore the public to avoid using disposable grills, as they carry a high risk of starting fires in surrounding vegetation. For those grilling on patios and at cabins, authorities recommend having buckets of water and fire extinguishers at hand, as well as wetting the surrounding vegetation with a garden hose before barbecuing. The public is asked to avoid lighting open fires.

Heiðmörk Forest Fire Burns Two Square Kilometres

heiðmörk fire 4 may 2021

A brush fire has burned two square kilometres of Heiðmörk forest in the Reykjavík capital area, RÚV reports. The fire broke out between three and four yesterday afternoon and took firefighters nearly twelve hours to put out. The fire was difficult for fire crews to access as it was far from roads.

Sævar Hreiðarsson, a forest warden in Heiðmörk, stated that wardens had been through the area just before the fire broke out. “It’s just sad that our staff didn’t see this. They were there just half an hour, an hour before this happened,” he stated.

The planting of Heiðmörk began in the early 1950s and the forest celebrated its 70th anniversary last year. The area where the fire took place was planted around 20 years ago. Heiðmörk is a popular recreational area for residents of the capital area. “And unfortunately some are using disposable barbecues or are smoking and not being careful,” Sævar told reporters. “Now everything is very dry and ignites easily, there’s a lot of food for the fire now.”

The area has been monitored specifically due to the risk of forest fire in recent years. “But it’s such a big area and it’s difficult for us to monitor, and this happens very suddenly. We have managed to stop fires like this as they break out. The fire crews managed to help us with something two years ago. There were small fires then but thankfully not like this just now.”

One Man in Custody Following Death on Easter Weekend

One man is in custody following the death of a 30-year-old man in the Reykjavík capital area last weekend, Vísir reports. The incident was reported last Friday morning when the victim’s girlfriend found him heavily injured in the parking lot outside their Kópavogur home. Authorities suspect he was struck by a car.

 

The victim was named Daníel Eiríksson and was born in 1990. Three Romanian citizens were arrested on Saturday in connection with the incident and two were released. The man in custody says the incident was an accident and he is devastated as a result, according to his counsel.

 

The three men that were arrested in connection to the incident were around the same age as the victim. Police are investigating whether there were any witnesses to the incident as well as whether it was recorded by security cameras.