Officials from Iceland say the Sindri Thor Stefansson, who is suspected of orchestrating one of the biggest heists Iceland has ever seen, escaped prison by simply climbing out of a window, according to the Guardian.
After fleeing the prison, Stefansson traveled about 60 miles to Iceland’s international airport in Keflavik, where he allegedly boarded a flight to Sweden on the same plane reportedly carrying the country’s 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.
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, but 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 is still in the wind, the Guardian reported Wednesday.
Stefansson was one of 11 people arrested in February for allegedly stealing 600 computers used to mine the cryptocurrency bitcoin and other virtual currencies, the AP reported.
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, The Washington Post has reported. About 80 percent of Iceland’s energy comes from hydroelectric power, which provides data-mining centers with reliable, cheap power. The chill weather helps to keep servers from overheating.
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 yet 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, according to AP. The prison has no fence and inmates are allowed access to phones and the Internet, the BBC reported, citing local Icelandic media.
“He had an accomplice,” police chief Gunnar Schram told Visir, a local news outlet. “We are sure of that.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Allyson Chiu