Police tackle new wave of burglaries

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More homes were broken into over the weekend, this time in Oslo’s Grefsen and Kjelsås neighbourhoods. A new wave of burglaries has crashed over the Oslo area, frightening homeowners and prompting police to warn them against leaving their houses unattended. Alarm systems haven’t been helping.

Faced with more than 50 reports of burglaries in the past week in Oslo and Bærum, just west of the capital, police are convinced that organized bands of professional thieves are behind them all. The similarities are startling:

*** Nearly all the burglaries have occurred during the middle of the day, when the homeowners are either at work or school.

*** The burglars have avoided alarm systems by using a ladder and entering the homes by breaking a second-story bedroom window.

*** The burglars work quickly, snatching small valuable items like jewelry and cash and fleeing within minutes. In some cases where alarms have been activated, the thieves have been gone before police or security firms arrive, often within 10 minutes of the first alarm.

*** The burglars seem to know exactly where valuables are located in the homes, leading police to believe they’re been tipped by craftsmen or cleaning personnel working inside the homes.

Police also believe the burglars have had their targets under observation. In one case, reports newspaper Aftenposten , a woman who left her home for only an hour, to run an errand, came home to find her home burglarized. “They must have seen me leave,” she told Aftenposten .

Most of the burglaries have occurred in affluent areas, including lower Holmenkollen in Oslo and Bekkestua, Snarøya, Jar and Hosle in Bærum. Police set up roadblocks to stop all cars driving off the island of Snarøya after several homes in the area were burglarized last last week.

Police went so far as to caution homeowners against going away over the weekend. One police spokesman in Bærum told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Friday that homeowners should at the very least make it look like someone was at home, to discourage break-ins.

They could report some success in their efforts to bust up the burglary rings late last week. Police from the Majorstuen station in Oslo stopped to question three men from eastern Europe who were spotted in one of the neighbourhoods where several burglaries had been reported. They were found to be in possession of tools that could be used for break-ins, several mobile telephones and SIM cards. Police in Asker, west of Oslo, arrested three men from Bosnia who also were found with tools and stolen goods at the house where they lived in Valdres, a mountain town about a three-hour drive away.