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Last year it was revealed by officials that Sindri Thor Stefansson, the mastermind behind Iceland’s biggest Bitcoin heist, managed to flee prison and board an international flight. But who is the man behind the heist?
Sindri Thor Stefansson is suspected of masterminding the theft of 600 Bitcoin mining computers, worth around $2 million. Stefansson was arrested along with 10 others for the crime, which was carried out between December 2017 and January 2018 in a series of four burglaries. Seven people were charged, with sentences ranging from 6 months to 2 and a half years for the six, and a longer sentence for Stefansson (4.5 years). The crime was dubbed “Big Bitcoin Heist,” and the computers in question have never been found.
Stefansson was held in custody after his arrest but wasn’t considered a dangerous inmate, and so 10 days before his arrest, he was transferred to Song prison. Sogn prison is a low-security, unfenced prison with access to phones and the internet.
Stefansson managed to search for international flights on the internet, which wasn’t restricted. He booked his flight an hour before its departure and escaped through a window in the prison, hitchhiking the 59 miles to Keflavik airport. He boarded the flight to Stockholm, using a plane ticket under a fake name. A passport wasn’t required due to traveling within the Schengen zone. An interesting twist in an already bizarre case is that Icelandic PM Katrin Jakobsdottir was also on the same flight.
From Stockholm, he boarded trains and buses to get to Amsterdam. While on the run, he sent a letter to Iceland’s Frettabladid newspaper:
“I simply refuse to be in prison of my own free will, especially when the police threaten to arrest me without explanation… I’m not trying to say that it was the right decision to leave, I really regret it… I didn’t expect an international arrest warrant to be issued against me, as I was legally free to leave, and believed it was out of the question that I would be labeled a fugitive.
“I would never have done this if I didn’t believe I was a free man.”
He also added that he could have “a roof over [his] head, a car, false papers if [he] want them and money” and that he could be on the run “as long as [he] likes.”
Leading police to believe he has an accomplice. Stefansson was later arrested in Amsterdam. The story was a media sensation in Iceland and the rest of the world since the peaceful island of 340,000 people has one of the world’s lowest crime rates.