Police warn youth: ‘Don’t walk alone’

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UPDATED: Police have taken the unusual step of warning children and teenagers against walking alone, even in broad daylight, after a series of attempted abductions in southeastern Norway. A 15-year-old girl was among the latest victims on Sunday afternoon, when two men in a delivery truck tried to force her into their vehicle on a road in Nord-Odal, Hedmark County. On Monday morning, two boys resisted a similar attack in Sandefjord.

Newspaper Drammens Tidende and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Monday that police had made an arrest in the case but released the suspect after questioning. It’s by no means sure the wave of attempted abductions has crested, hence the warning from national crime investigators who have been called in to help local police.

Various vehicles, similar attacks
All 10 victims so far have managed to get away from the men driving vehicles described as utility vans or delivery trucks. The vans have had different colors but most reportedly have the special green license plates placed on vehicles used mostly for commercial purposes and with no backseat for passengers.

The abductors have been described as “European” with Sunday’s victim telling police that they spoke English. “One of the men had a beard and moustache, the other was clean-shaven,” Vidar Pedersen of the Hedmark Police District told news bureau NTB. “Both were wearing dark sweaters, one had a cap.”

They drove up behind the 15-year-old as she walked along county road 24 near Bruvoll, following her for awhile before attempting to block her path with the vehicle. “They grabbed her and tried to drag her into the vehicle, but she managed to tear off her jacket and backpack and run,” Pedersen told NTB. “She lives in the area, ran straight home and was understandably quite scared. Her mother called police immediately.”

In Sandefjord, two boys were playing outside their homes in an otherwise quiet residential neighborhood. They also managed to get away from the men who tried repeatedly to lure them into their vehicle.

Related attacks
Police believe the attacks are related to the string of others that began nearly two weeks ago when a 13-year-old girl walking to school in Eidsvoll, northeast of Oslo, was accosted by a man also driving a delivery-type vehicle. She also got away and hid in a local forest until police found her. The next day, on September 21, a similar attack was reported to police near Øvre Dalen School in Gan, Fet township, and that evening, two young women were also subject to separate attempted abductions in Drammen.

Two men also attempted to lure an eight-year-old boy into their vehicle in Lommedalen in Bærum, just west of Oslo on September 25. Two more such attacks were reported late last week in Bærum as well during daylight hours, including one at around 8:30 in the morning.

Police were calling for tips from the public and the national crime unit Kripos has joined the investigation. Drammens Tidende and NRK reported Monday morning that a man was arrested and charged in the abduction attempts in Drammen but he reportedly was released after questioning.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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