‘Doomsday Prepper’ Arrested After 6 Kids Found Living in Cellar in Austria

A rifle and two crossbows were among weapons recovered when police arrested a man identified as conspiracy theorist Tom Landon.
Austria cellar tom landon
The scene in the village of Obritz where the man was arrested and the children discovered. Photo: ORF

An alleged conspiracy theorist and doomsday prepper in Austria has been charged with resisting state authority after he was found living with his six young children in a wine cellar.

The 54-year-old, identified in media reports as Tom Landon, was arrested in the village of Obritz, in northeastern Austria, on Thursday the 26th of January.  Inspectors from the local authorities had showed up to investigate reports from neighbours' that they could hear children’s voices in the cellar, which had been fitted with surveillance cameras on the street.


“The surveillance cameras in front of the basement were particularly annoying, and residents sometimes heard children's voices in the basement, and as soon as they approached it was quiet," the town's vice-mayor, Erich Greil, told the Austrian broadcaster ORF.

Landon attacked the officials with pepper spray before barricading himself in the basement, according to reports. When police officers showed up with a warrant to open and search the basement, they reportedly found six children, the youngest aged just seven months, inside, along with Landon’s 40-year-old partner and a number of weapons, including a rifle, two crossbows, and several air guns.

Police said the children had not been registered with Austrian authorities, and were taken into the care of youth welfare officials while they investigated their circumstances. The children had not been neglected or harmed, police said.

Austrian media reports, citing police, said Landon was believed to be a prepper, and was understood to have bought six abandoned cellars in the street, which he was renovating for his family to live there. The cellar the family was living in was equipped with water and electricity and had been fitted with doors and windows, but was deemed unsuitable for human habitation.

The reports described him as a Holocaust denier and a Reichsburger (“citizen of the Reich”), a follower of a strand of far-right sovereign citizen ideology that falsely claims that the German Reich still exists, and that the modern states of Germany and Austria are illegitimate. Last month, police in Germany carried out huge raids against a Reichsburger network that was allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.


Police in Lower Austria, the Austrian state where Obritz is located, told VICE World News that the only officer who was permitted to comment on the case was unavailable for comment on Monday, while the prosecutor’s office dealing with the case did not respond to requests for comment.

Speaking to the website of the UK newspaper the Daily Mail in a report published on Monday, a man the website identified as Landon claimed he had been targeted simply because his “off-grid” lifestyle aggravated Greil, the town’s vice-mayor.

He said he had told officials who had come to investigate the welfare of his children that “they were my children, they were perfectly safe and we were teaching them at home, and it was none of their business how we chose to live.”

He said their family, who had previously lived in London, had lived in the cellar in Obritz for nearly a year, and that he had bought six properties in the street which he intended to renovate and give to his children to live in when they were older.

“My family is terrified, they won't come back to the house where we lived for nearly a year because they are scared the police may return. Do you know we had police here with guns and a battering ram to get access to my property?” he said.

“And all because the deputy mayor doesn't like our chosen lifestyle and wants us out. Do you really think I would be free if I had been keeping my young children in a cellar?”

Landon, whose nationality is Austrian, is the director of a book publishing company registered in the UK. He is the author of a number of self-published books outlining his conspiracist views and criticising the Austrian government, including the 2019 title “Rote Sau” (Red Sow), whose online blurb describes it as “regime criticism along with political stance as an exciting and never-ending novel-like analytical narrative.”