Ikea not amused by new trend of overnight guests

Pranksters post­ing on­line videos of clan­des­tine af­ter-hours vis­i­ta­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Stock­holm

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.

Num­ber crunch­ing

“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

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