On Saturday at approximately 21:40, Italian PhD student Laura* was sitting on a bench near the Korrewegwijk. She noticed a group of ‘four or five’ boys, aged maybe eight to thirteen, standing at a distance. She didn’t think anything of it. ‘They had been in the park for as long as I had; I saw them from far away but they seemed harmless.’
But then the two youngest boys approached her. ‘They took advantage of a moment when there was no one else around in the park’, she says. ‘One of them tried to grab my bike, while the other tried to grab my purse. They tried multiple times.’ She repeatedly told them to leave her alone. The older boys hung back, apparently filming the confrontation on a cell phone.
Laura resisted. When she stood up from the bench, ‘they just ran away – they escaped in the Paramaribostraat. In the end, they did not actually steal anything because I was able to stop them, but still, it was awful.’
Laura has since filed a police report and posted a warning on the Facebook group, ‘Expats in Groningen.’ In the comment section, another RUG student reported a similar experience on Saturday, near the Noorderplantsoen.
‘A group of kids or teenagers surrounded me and violently pulled my bike away while I was walking beside it, then threw it on the floor, laughed, and went off. I know they are ‘just kids’ but I felt kind of scared also because no one else was around. I wrote a report to the police giving their description’, says Anna Algermissen.
Between 11 and 17
She can’t recall what they looked like. ‘I believe they were between 11 and 17 years old – maybe – and there were around six of them.’
Police spokesperson Anthony Hogeveen says: if this happens to you, file a police report. ‘If there are several reports, that tells us there might be a trend in a certain area that we need to investigate.’
But Hoogeveen says the police aren’t currently aware of a growing trend of child muggers in Groningen. ‘That doesn’t really ring a bell.’
*The original name has been withheld for privacy.