Romanian gang targeting elderly women: police

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Suspects caught on camera outside an Oslo retirement home on March 24th (Photo: Police)
11:26 CEST+02:00
A gang of Romanian women is targeting elderly women across Norway in a series of often brutal jewellery robberies, with 20 such crimes reported in Oslo alone over the last two week, police have said.

In all cases, the victims are first asked if they want to buy imitation jewellery before they instead end up having their own valuables stolen, newspaper VG reports.

In one episode that was partly caught on camera, an 83-year-old woman in Oslo recalled how she was approached by two Romanian women outside the retirement home where she lives.

When she said she wasn’t interested in buying their wares, the women grabbed her left hand and ripped three gold rings off her ring finger.

The elderly victim screamed in pain as her assailants made off with the rings, one of which was her mother’s wedding ring from 1927.

“Even experienced police officers get upset and angry when they hear the descriptions of these crimes,” Oslo police spokesman Geir Ellefsen told VG

“Based on information we have received from victims, witnesses and the police’s own investigations we can see that the women behind these crimes are exclusively foreign Roma people from Romania,” said Ellefsen.

The Romanian jewellery thieves have focused their attention on elderly Norwegian women in Oslo, Asker og Bærum, as well as towns in Buskerud, Romerike, Follo, Agder, and Sør-Trøndelag, police said.

The deputy head of the parliamentary justice committee, Jan Bøhler (Labour Party), and Conservative MP André Oktay Dahl have both called for the introduction of a ban on street begging to help put a stop to the wave of crime targeting elderly women.

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“We’re working for a change in the law that would enable municipalities to ban begging. The Romanian groups are operating with several types of criminality, and the scope is widening,” Bøhler told VG.

“Furthermore, anybody who is caught should be handed sentences severe enough to warrant them being extradited to Romania,” he added.

Bøhler recommended classifying the offences as organized crime, which he said would lead to tougher sentences and act as a deterrent.

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