While media attention has been focused on a wave of rapes in Oslo this year, men have been victimized as well, by another wave of crime involving unusually brutal robberies carried out by small groups of young African men. Police now have eight suspects, aged 18-21, under arrest.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported this week on the terrifying robbery that Sturla Nøstvik, age 36, experienced on a Thursday evening in late September, while walking home around 9:30pm from Rodeløkka towards Torshov. His experience is one of many this autumn.
Beaten and held hostage
Nøstvik had just ended a phone chat with his girlfriend, telling her he’d be home in a few minutes, when he was suddenly attacked by two young men. They pistol-whipped him and demanded his wallet and iPhone. Since there was around NOK 1,500 in cash in the wallet, Nøstvik thought they’d be satisfied.
They weren’t. They dragged him, bleeding and dazed, at gunpoint into a pedestrian tunnel at the entrance to Torshovsdalen, the otherwise scenic valley and park adjacent to the busy street Trondheimsveien. They started beating him, pinned him to the ground with the gun against his throat, and in broken Norwegian and English demanded his “password.” It took Nøstvik a while to figure out that they wanted the PIN codes to his bank card and credit cards.
When he gave them up, one of the men ran off to a minibank (ATM), to empty his bank account. The other continued to threaten him. Nøstvik’s girlfriend called, since he hadn’t shown up at home, but the robber turned off the sound on the iPhone, commenting that she was “very pretty” when he found her photo stored on the phone. He threatened to take Nøstvik home and kill both of them if police were called. The robber also told Nøstvik not to describe them as dark-skinned.
Nearly 400 robberies so far this year
The ordeal finally ended, after nearly an hour. The other robber returned and they left Nøstvik, badly injured. He managed to walk home but arrived at an empty house, because his girlfriend had gone out looking for him. She returned to find him bleeding heavily and in shock. Shocked herself, she managed to call the police, an ambulance, and the bank to stop his cards. Nøstvik was rushed to an emergency room for treatment, but remains blind in his left eye and still badly shaken from the ordeal.
Police told Aftenposten they’ve had reports of nearly 400 robberies so far this year. Many of the victims are men attacked on the streets after nightfall. Police have rounded up eight suspects, with two of them believed to be those who attacked Nøstvik. Both are 20 years old, one from Nigeria, the other from Gambia. They’re suspected of at least 17 robberies committed in and around Oslo’s Grünerløkka district in August and September, all with the same pattern: Men are targeted, beaten and held hostage while their bank accounts are raided using the cards taken out of their wallets. Nøstvik’s assailants got NOK 21,000 (about USD 4,000) out of two minibanks close to Torshov.
Inge Sundeng of Oslo’s Grønland Police Station, said he feels many of the robbers’ victims are “the forgotten victims,” as public attention has been drawn to the victims of sexual assault. “We’re doing our best to make the robberies a priority as well, not least because of the human and economic consequences the robberies have,” Sundeng told Aftenposten.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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