U.N. intern tells of Christmas Eve robbery

A United Nations intern in the U.N Development Programme, Troels Andersen, has told the Samoa Observer about his harrowing ordeal in Samoa on Christmas Eve.

The 27-year-old from Denmark was on the phone to his mother from his Moto’otua accommodation when a criminal broke into his house, wielding a knife and demanding money.

Mr. Andersen, who had three weeks left of his contract, was so frightened by what happened he left the country the next day.

 “I didn’t hear anything because I had my headphones on,” he told the Samoa Observer from Denmark.  “I was on the phone to my mother, and after a few seconds I realised what’s happening. Initially I thought it was someone I knew playing a prank, but then you see a knife.

“He said to me, where is the money, show me the money. I pointed to my coffee table where all my stuff is and said take what you want. 

“He took the contents of my wallet, about T$200 and then he took my portable speaker, all my shoes, my cigarettes, anything he could, and the keys to the car.”

But it wasn’t enough. 

After threatening to kill Mr. Andersen should he tell anyone what happened, and leaving, the attacker returned, demanding more.

“I told him no, that’s all I have, so I he said I’ll take you to an ATM and we’ll withdraw some money.”

Cooperating, Mr. Andersen was guided at knife-point down the stairs to his car, on loan from a colleague. 

He said at that point, he just wanted to keep this man happy.

“I don’t think his English was very good. He was aggressive, and he got annoyed when he didn’t understand me, which made it hard.”

 

 

Together the attacker and victim journeyed to a nearby ATM, with Mr. Andersen in the passenger seat, the knife still pointed at him.

“We get to the ATM and he tells me once you give me the money, I’ll let you go,” he said.

Hoping after the money is handed over the affair will be done, Mr. Andersen withdrew T$600 and passed it through the window. 

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But the attacker wanted him to get back into the car.

“[Before], it was somewhat ok because he wanted the money, so if I cooperated it would be fine,” Mr. Andersen said. “But when he wanted me to get back into the car I got a really bad feeling. I had nothing more to give and he wouldn’t tell me where we’re going. 

“At that point anything could have happened. The only thing I could do to put my own fate in my hands was to run.”

So Mr. Andersen abandoned the car and the attacker, despite the man’s efforts to get him back inside the vehicle. 

He made it to the closest hotel where he hid for ten minutes; to be sure the man was gone. 

On the way, he slipped on the wet wooden deck and cut his knee, which he wouldn’t notice till much later.

Finally inside the hotel, two guests found Mr. Andersen and helped him with food and drink and called the police, who arrived shortly after. 

He also contacted his mother to tell him he was safe – she would have heard the entire robbery taking place in his room, which interrupted their phone call. 

“She’s processing this as much as I am,” Mr. Andersen said.

“She was in shock at home. She doesn’t know anyone in Samoa, so she was stuck there waiting to hear from me. She’s really happy to have me back at least.”

Mr. Andersen consulted with his United Nations management, who both offered him their own homes, and helped him decide whether or not to go home to Denmark. 

He opted to leave, booking a flight for the following afternoon.

“I’ve been mugged before, but the worst part of this is you’re in the safety of your home and someone just walks in, that’s a completely different experience,” Mr. Andersen said.

“It was a pretty long ordeal, like 45 minutes. It's a long time where you just don’t know what’s happening.”

Contacted for a comment, the Police declined saying they are investigating the matter. 

The Samoa Observer understands the car was crashed and abandoned, not far from the ATM. It is now in police custody. 

The owner of Mr. Andersen’s apartment, and the hotel he ran to for help said the man who attacked him was probably drunk or on drugs.

“We’ll be adding more security of course, but I am quite surprised. This has never happened before in my place,” she said.

She said she was especially sad to see a visitor being attacked.

“He’s here to try and help our country, to improve it.”

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