Pickpockets galore in the capital

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Oslo police issued another warning this week to both tourists and residents, that they’re receiving record reports of pick-pocketing this summer. They claim, in fact, that the record number of reports is now approaching “an explosion.”

Oslo police have seen another big jump in pick-pocketing this summer. PHOTO: Justisdepartementet

Newspaper Dagsavisen reported Thursday that pick-pocketing was up 56.1 percent in downtown Oslo during the first half of this year. In the busy upper portions of Karl Johans Gate and around Rådhusplassen (the plaza in front of City Hall), reports from victims of pickpockets were up 67.4 percent through May.

Around 1,200 reports are flowing in every month, according to police. They believe the actual incidence of pick-pocketing is higher because many people don’t bother to file a police report. Smart telephones and wallets are the items most frequently stolen.

“There’s reason to ask all Oslo residents and all tourists who come to the capital to take precautions,” Emma Elisabeth Vennesland of travel insurance firm Europeiske Reiseforsikring told Dagsavisen. Her firm alone has paid out NOK 6.4 million in compensation claims just for stolen mobile telephones so far this year, up 121 percent over the same period last year, with much of the theft occurring “at home” in Oslo.

Police say the pickpockets are professional and are using techniques common in Spain and other European cities. When a “helping hand” comes to help remove “accidental” stains to a jacket, for example, wallets can suddenly disappear. Other ruses involve asking for directions and creating obstacles when passengers are getting on and off public transit.

“It’s all about distracting victims,” Bjørn Åge Hansen of the Oslo Police central station told Dagsavisen.

Vennesland said Oslo “can now be compared to most all other European capitals when it comes to pick-pocketing activity.”

Insurance firms including Europeiske and If Skadeforsikring are cooperating with the police and employers’ organization NHO to publish a simple brochure detailing the risks of pickpocketing in Oslo. The police are distributing the brochure in vulnerable areas of the city.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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