Friday, May 02, 2008

Police pursue polish raiders

Oslo police are on a hunt for a band of six polish men who they say have been traveling around Norway and Scandinavia on a thieving raid.
Oslo police have started a campaign against pickpockets, and they are out on the streets telling people about it.

The police have the names of the men, who are 26 to 38 years old, and have been showing photos of the six men at their afternoon meetings, writes

The police hope to apprehend them on the open street, so that they can be immediately sentenced and sent out of the country.

The six suspects are believed to be behind at least 33 serious robberies in the counties of Vestfold, Asker, Baerum and in Oslo.

"These are extremely professional pickpockets... they have specialized in stealing wallets and are very good at abusing cards," said Bj?rn ?ge Hansen, station chief at the Central Police Station.

But importantly, they are not just pickpockets, points out Hansen. They commit all types of crimes.

And the six men who are being sought are not the only ones under police focus right now.

Although the police say it has mostly been Polish "bands" covering the pickpocket market, Romanians are another major group behind these crimes, they add.

They base their assessment on their own observations and the few statistics they have.

So far this year, the police have only managed to catch 48 people committing pickpocket crimes. Of these, 19 were from Poland, 14 were from Norway, and 8 from Romania. The rest were of various nationalities.

The Polish and Romanians have an entirely different method of stealing than the Norwegians do, say the police, while the Polish are in a professional class by themselves.

"These are people who travel around in groups of four to six people, together with friends or family. They come to Norway with one goal, and that is to commit crimes," said Hansen.

The bands target the largest cities in Norway: Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim.

Hansen emphasizes that he doesn’t want to stigmatize certain ethnic groups. "This is actually tragic, because we have a large group of average Polish and Romanians here in Oslo. These thieves are ruining things horribly for their countrymen who work here," he said.