Police in Oslo are now registering nearly as many pickpocketing complaints as police in Berlin, a city with seven times the population of Oslo. The thieves, often foreign nationals, are reportedly attracted by Norway’s affluence, which also can help explain why every third prisoner in Norway is now a foreign citizen as well.
Pickpocketing has been a big problem in the Norwegian capital and other Norwegian cities for years. Newspaper Aftenposten reported Tuesday that a total of 14,962 incidents of pickpocketing were registered last year, compared to 15,127 in Berlin. The growth is described as “explosive,” with Oslo seen as a “honey pot,” according to Roar Kvassheim of the Oslo Police District.
Oslo now has a special unit earmarked to crack down on the pickpocketers. In one case, two Romanian brothers were arrested just days after the unit was created and now they’re both in jail.
They’ll join many other foreign nationals who now make up 31.1 percent of all prisoners in Norway, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday. That’s up from 12.9 percent in 2000, an increase of more than 18 percentage points over the past 10 years and putting Norway at the top of lists over increases in the numbers of foreign prisoners in other countries. Next highest was Austria, up 16 percentage points, followed by Spain, up 15.5.
One foreign prisoner convicted of credit card swindling in Norway told NRK he’d heard rumors that western Europe and especially Scandinavia were attractive places for getting money illegally. “My country is poor and folks don’t have many resources,” he told NRK. “This is a rich country, that’s the way it is.”