Officials said Sindri Thor Stefansson, who is suspected of orchestrating one of the biggest heists Iceland has ever seen, simply climbed out a window and walked away, according to The Guardian.
Prison breaks, in the movies at least, usually involve digging with MacGyver-ed tools or rappelling down walls using ropes fashioned from bedsheets, but one man didn’t need any of the classic escape techniques when he broke out of a rural low-security prison in Iceland on Tuesday.
Officials said Sindri Thor Stefansson, who is suspected of orchestrating one of the biggest heists Iceland has ever seen, simply climbed out a window and walked away, according to Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
After fleeing the prison, Stefansson traveled about 60 miles to Iceland’s international airport in Keflavik, where he boarded a flight to Sweden. It was the same plane reportedly carrying Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, according to the Iceland Review. The coincidence, based on an account by a passenger, has not been confirmed by authorities.
RUV, an Icelandic news site, published a surveillance-camera image it said was Stefansson, wearing a black baseball cap and jacket, casually strolling through the airport, suitcase in tow.
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By the time guards realized he was gone, Stefansson was at 35,000 feet and on his way to freedom, according to the BBC.
Police believe Stefansson used a plane ticket under another name, and said it was “unlikely” he had to present a passport at the airport since Iceland and Sweden are part of Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel zone, according to The Associated Press.
“Swedish police have, as have other European countries, been informed by Iceland about a detained man who has escaped,” Swedish national police spokeswoman Malin Nafver told Reuters.
Despite authorities’ efforts, Stefansson remained at large.
He was one of 11 people arrested in February for allegedly stealing 600 computers used to mine the cryptocurrency bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
The small island country in the North Atlantic has become a hotbed for cryptocurrency mining because of its abundance of renewable power sources and its cold climate. About 80 percent of Iceland’s energy comes from hydroelectric power, which provides data-mining centers with reliable, cheap power. The low temperatures help keep servers from overheating.
In what was dubbed the “Big Bitcoin Heist,” thieves made off with about $2 million in equipment in a series of burglaries Icelandic officials called “a grand theft on a scale unseen before,” according to the AP. Even if the computers aren’t sold, the thieves could use them to create new bitcoin and turn a profit in an untraceable currency, AP reported.
The computers have not been located, and owners have announced a $60,000 reward for information, The Guardian reported.
Stefansson, who is suspected of organizing the grand heist, was moved to the minimum-security prison about a week and a half ago. The prison has no fence, and inmates are allowed access to phones and the internet, the BBC reported, citing Icelandic media.
“He had an accomplice,” Police Chief Gunnar Schram told Visir, a local news outlet. “We are sure of that.”
Helgi Gunnlaugsson, a sociology professor at the University of Iceland, told The Guardian it was unusual for a high-profile prisoner such as Stefansson to be moved, but even stranger was his organized prison break.
“Prison breaks in Iceland usually mean someone just fled to get drunk,” he said. “The underworlds are tiny and it is extremely difficult to hide, let alone flee the country.”
In fact, Stefansson’s suspected criminal dealings seem like ripe fodder for Steven Soderbergh films, with one Twitter user asking if his story is “reality or the plot of one of those random Norwegian cop shows on Netflix.”