Ikea not amused by new trend of overnight guests
Pranksters posting online videos of clandestine after-hours visitations
A new fad that has people hiding out in Ikea stores overnight and walking out the next morning has left the Swedish retailer less than amused.
In Europe, pranksters seeking a thrill have followed in the footsteps of Bram Geirnaert and Florian Van Hecke, two Belgian students who filmed and posted on YouTube a video clip about the summer night they spent at an Ikea store in Ghent.
Their video, entitled Two Idiots at Night in Ikea, has been viewed 1.7 million times — fewer however than their British counterparts “Carnage” and “LordOmar”, who have made a name for themselves by spending 24 clandestine hours in stadiums, zoos, cinemas and theme parks, and whose stay at a British Ikea has garnered 2.3 million views.
“We were thinking about something crazy we could do after we graduated from high school,” Geirnaert said.
Hiding out for hours in a cramped display wardrobe, the two ventured out into the showroom once they were sure the cleaning staff had gone for the night.
“We didn’t go too far inside the store because we didn’t want to risk being caught by a motion sensor,” Geirnaert said.
“We were too nervous to really fall asleep. With every sound of the wind or every noise we heard, we were wide awake again.”
When the store opened the next morning, Geirnaert and Van Hecke coolly walked through the aisles to the exit, as unwitting sales staff greeted them and thanked them for their visit.
Others have not been so lucky.
“Carnage” and “LordOmar” were caught by a night watchman, as were two teenage girls in the southern Swedish town of Jonkoping on Dec 17.
The underage girls will not be prosecuted, but future trespassers might not be so fortunate, Ikea spokesman Jakob Holmstrom said.
“We hope we’ve seen the beginning of the end of this overrated craze,” Holmstrom said, pointing out the prank is hardly worth the effort.
“It’ ll be a long night of sitting still, only to then get in trouble with the law.”
At its almost 400 stores worldwide, Ikea has been targeted by around 1,300 clandestine night visitors, Swedish police investigator Lars Forstell told Stockholm’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
But the company roundly rejects that number.
“We have no overall global number but we have had significantly fewer incidents than 1,300. If we look at Sweden, we have had four cases at 20 stores,” Holmstrom said.
Geirnaert and Van Hecke are not encouraging others to break the law.
“Ikea didn’t personally contact us, we only read in the newspaper that they thought it was funny once but they didn’t want other people to try it,” Geirnaert said.
Holmstrom strongly advised against re-creating their prank, stressing that Ikea “can’t guarantee people’s safety. If something were to happen they wouldn’t be able to get out”, in the event of a fire for example.
He said intrusions of this kind amount to trespassing, which is punishable by law.
Meanwhile in China, Ikea — founded in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad and which has 180,000 employees worldwide — has a similar but different problem.
Visitors have been known to pop into giant outlets in Beijing and Shanghai during the afternoon to nap in the display beds.
It’ll be a long night of sitting still, only to then get in trouble with the law.”
Jakob Holmstrom, Ikea spokesman