Oslo: Scandinavia’s ‘robbery capital’

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Police in Oslo have registered 58 reports of robbery so far in November, making Oslo the so-called “robbery capital” of Scandinavia. With the sons of immigrants behind most of the robberies reported all over town, Prime Minister Erna Solberg called on immigrant parents to crack down on their kids.

“It looks like young gang members are behind most of this,” Solberg told newspaper Dagsavisen on Monday. “We have to crack down on this, also the parents in the immigrant community, to stop this sort of behavior.”

More frequent and more brutal
The robbery wave that started spreading in Oslo earlier this year hasn’t crested yet. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Monday afternoon that fresh statistics place Oslo well ahead of robberies registered in Stockholm and Copenhagen, even though they have larger populations than the Norwegian capital. Newspaper VG called Oslo the “robbery capital” of Scandinavia, if not the entire Nordic region.

The street robberies also have grown more brutal. One victim last week was an 88-year-old woman walking in her neighbourhood in the Majorstuen district. Two teenagers robbed in the generally quiet residential area of Røa on the city’s west side were badly beaten and sent to hospital. Other victims have reported being grabbed from behind with a knife held to their throats while the young robbers demanded their mobile phones and wallets.

Police say they’re getting an average of four robbery reports every day. Several kiosks have also been targets in recent weeks of the young robbers who generally operate in groups of four. Police have apprehended 22 suspects so far, several under the age of 18 and few older than 25.

Parents ‘must get involved’
Solberg agreed with a string of community activists that parents must get involved and pay more attention to where their children are, and what they’re doing. Police also have organized community meetings in neighbourhoods where several robberies have occurred or where the young suspects live, inviting parents to get involved.

It’s also important that the young offenders understand the consequences of their actions, Solberg said, even if they’re too young to be sent to jail. “They may not qualify to get their driver’s licenses, they may be denied visas if they ever want to travel to the USA,” she told Dagsavisen. “We need to raise these sorts of points to stop what can seem like a small step into a criminal career.”

Others, including a former well-known TV personality on NRK, simply are calling for many more police patrols and not just downtown, but also in the neighbourhoods. High visibility of police can be an important deterrent, agree many politicians, and funding for the police is being increased.

Hadia Tajik of the Labour Party, the former culture minister who now leads the justice committee in Parliament, said Labour is proposing a new form of youth punishment because jail terms for those old enough to qualify can serve as “a school for criminals.” She urged “preventive measures” along with “quick and clear reaction.”

Meanwhile, the robberies have spread to suburban Bærum, where two boys aged 15 and 16 were arrested and charged last week with having robbed two 14-year-old boys near Østerås School. The robberies occurred in October and both suspects have admitted to the factual circumstances.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund