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Bitcoin Heist Suspect Escaped Prison, Then Iceland on Prime Minister's Plane

Apparently, the guards didn’t even realize he was gone until his flight had taken off.

by Mack Lamoureux
Apr 18 2018, 5:29pm

Photo via the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police/Canadian Press and Pexels

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

The Icelandic man police say is behind a multimillion dollar bitcoin computer heist escaped prison this week and managed to flee the country, hopping on a plane with the Icelandic prime minister en route to Sweden.

The protagonist of this truly modern crime story is Sindri Thor Stefansson, who was arrested back in February for allegedly helping to steal 600 computers in what's been dubbed Iceland’s "Big Bitcoin Heist." According to police, Stefansson and ten others stole the computers to set up a major bitcoin mining operation, the Guardian reports.

But Stefansson caught his break about 11 days ago, when the alleged thief was moved to a small, low-security prison in rural Iceland, complete with internet access and phones. Because apparently some of Iceland’s prisons work on the honor system, the one Stefansson was at reportedly didn’t have fences, either. On Tuesday, he managed to escape through a window and high-tailed it to the airport. According to the Guardian, the guards didn’t even realize he was gone until his flight had taken off.

Using a fake passport, Stefansson then boarded a plane headed to Sweden—the same one that the country’s prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, was also aboard. The Guardian reports that an international arrest warrant has been issued for Stefansson, but he hasn’t been arrested in Sweden yet.

In March, Iceland’s police commissioner, Olafur Helgi Kjartansson, told the Associated Press that the crimes Stefansson and his crew allegedly pulled were "a grand theft on a scale unseen before"—lifting around 200m kronur ($2,059,883 USD). Unlike a some kind of Soderbergh heist film, though, police in Iceland don’t believe this crime was pulled off by a ragtag group of handsome scoundrels. According to Kjartansson, “everything points to this being a highly organized crime."

Now, I’m no criminal expert, but if a man’s been arrested for "a grand theft on a scale unseen before,” it might be a good idea to at the very least put him behind a fence.

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Sindri Thor Stefansson
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