Swedish telecommunications company goofs

Mock hijacking of bus goes haywire.

Published March 1, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Ericsson, a Swedish telecommunications company, is in trouble with the Greek police.

According to the Associated Press, the company wanted to see how its employees would react to a robbery, so it sent 25 staff members on a bus trip from Athens to Corinth -- and arranged to have them "hijacked."

It probably would have been a good idea to alert Greek police of their plan, but the management folks weren't thinking that far ahead. Instead they told only two people on the bus -- the driver and Susane Maria Wennerberg, the Ericsson employee who would be "kidnapped."

On a stretch of highway halfway to Corinth, two men in hoods -- both armed with empty shotguns -- stopped the bus and grabbed Wennerberg. A passing motorist happened
to see, and, thinking it was a real hijacking, used a cell phone to call police.

Corinthian cops, who just last year handled two real hijackings that resulted in three people dead, rushed to the scene. Soon they'd surrounded the bus, rifles loaded.

When police officers discovered the whole incident was staged, they responded by taking the Ericsson and travel agency employees into custody. They eventually released everyone, but have yet to decide whether to press charges.

Ericsson spokesman Lars Stalberg has called the incident "regrettable" and apologized for any inconvenience his company's "team-building exercise" caused.

With employers like that, who needs hijackers?

By J.A. Getzlaff

J.A. Getzlaff's Daily Planet appears every weekday. Do you have a tip or tale for J.A.? Send it to DailyPlanet@salon.com.

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