Police deal with increasing number of bomb threats

By the end of May 2017, there were 44 cases of false alarms; for the whole of 2016, there were 54 such cases.

Košice courts were searched for bomb on November 30, with nothing found. Košice courts were searched for bomb on November 30, with nothing found. (Source: TASR)

Within two weeks police had to evacuate the post office, nearly six thousand participants of a music event in Bratislava, all Košice courts, Bratislava’s Aupark shopping centre and the main train station in Bratislava.

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The number of false alarms about bombs has significantly increased in comparison with previous years. By the end of May 2017, there were 44 such cases, while for the whole of last year, there were 54 cases.

The search for bomb notifiers is difficult and the police have therefore initiated several changes.

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“We approached the Justice Ministry after a series of attacks on the courts,” police president Tibor Gašpar told The Slovak Spectator. “We asked them to take technological measures to protect court buildings, but also to increase the penalty rate.”

The current penalty for spreading threats is one to five years of imprisonment and three to eight years in more serious cases. Sentenced people have to also pay damages. For example, the regional court in Košice demanded €14,400 as compensation for staff salaries and postal services because it had to send new summons to hearings which had to be postponed due to the bomb alert.

From previous closed cases it stems that the reasons people spread bomb threats are varied. Some, for example, suffer from mental disorders, others report a bomb in court to avoid a sentence.

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Read also: Bomb alert announced at VW plant; meanwhile negotiations are set to continue on June 21 Read more 

Two people

In the last two weeks Slovakia suffered particularly from bomb threats in banks. As a result, Bratislava’s Aupark had to be evacuated because banks have their branches there. Numerous post offices also had to be searched after an anonymous person sent e-mails saying “Good evening, there is a huge bomb in the post office” and “There is a bomb in a bank.”

Police learnt that someone is sending these threats from abroad which makes investigation more complicated. However, police learnt enough to believe that they will find this person soon, according to Gašpar.

“The last threats concerning banks are in a promising stage of investigation because we see one person behind them,” Gašpar said. “We probably know who this person might be.”

In April police solved another series of bomb threats when the Košice district court filled criminal prosecution against 33-year-old Jozef from Košice and ordered detention.

Jozef has been sentenced six times for various crimes and together with his friend he repeatedly informed courts in Košice that there is a bomb in their building to avoid a seventh sentence, private broadcaster TV Markíza reported.

Since the beginning of 2017 until end of March, bomb threats interrupted work in Košice courts ten times.

Solving cases is difficult

The police’s success rate in solving those cases varies from 33 to 44 percent. In 2016 police solved 21 of 54 cases. To compare, Czech police solve 50 percent of those cases on average.

Those numbers are not bad, though, because finding people who spread false threats often know how to cover their tracks, making it difficult for police.

“Considering how sophisticated it [the investigation] needs to be and how problematic those criminal acts are it is a relatively good success rate,” Gašpar said.

He added that the police also rely on the police unit searching for people on the internet which was recently strengthened due to increasing the fight against extremism.

Many cases are not complicated, however, as criminals act in a simple way, according to Gašpar.

For example, an anonymous bomb threat was called in for train stations in Bratislava, without any specifications for which station would be targeted. This led to security checks at all Bratislava stations, while the main railway station was evacuated.

Police found the suspect, a 28-year-old from Bratislava, immediately and put him in pre-trial custody.

Read also: Bratislava train station evacuated after bomb threat Read more 

Various reasons

Analysis of about ten recent court rulings in such cases shows that perpetrators have almost always admitted and despised their act.

One of them defended himself in court with a psychological analysis which found histrionic personality disorder that is manifested by long-lasting and repetitive attention-seeking and exaggerated emotions.

He called in November 2014 to the distribution centre of one chain stores in Beckov and said they had a bomb. The store had to evacuate 278 employees and had a calculated damage of €17,000.

Trenčín Regional Court did not accepted this argument and sentenced him to one year in prison with parole for two years.

US authorities also dealt with an increasing number of false bomb threats in 2011 2001 after September 11. Law abiding citizens with clean criminal records were calling to various institutions and saying that a bomb in buildings.

When New York Times daily was investigating this trend it found that most of those people did not know why they were doing this.

“What keeps these people under control in normal times is fear of violating the social norms,” Jennifer F. Taylor, a clinical psychologist at McLean Hospital near Boston who has treated several patients arrested on charges of making bomb threats then told the New York Times. “But when everything seems like it has gone crazy in the outside world, then the wraps are off for these people.”

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