Iceland heist story gets crazier as suspect escapes prison, uses PM’s plane as getaway

Seriously, our favorite story of the year keeps getting better

Police in Iceland called off the nationwide search for an escaped prisoner on Wednesday after airport security footage showed him boarding a plane to Sweden. The prisoner, Sindri Þór Stefánsson, was believed to be the ringleader of the $2 million “Big Bitcoin Heist,” the largest crime in the nation’s history. Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir was also on board.

Police estimate that Stefánsson slipped out a window of the low security Sognið prison sometime after 1 a.m. Prison officials cannot say what time they last saw him or how he escaped, mostly because they don’t know. The remote prison doesn’t have bars or even a fence around its perimeter.

Prisoners have access to phones and internet while inside the prison. Police are still searching for Stefánsson’s assumed accomplice who helped him get from the prison to the airport 59 miles away.  The prisoner left on a flight to Sweden at 07:34 Tuesday morning and arrived in Stockholm at 6 a.m. local time, before authorities reported him missing.

Páll Winkel, the Director of the Icelandic Prison Service, told Iceland’s public television company RÚV that there were no indications that Sindri was a flight risk. Winkel is in charge of the island nation’s prison system, but has become an Icelandic Twitter meme since every time he appears on TV his computer screen shows he was playing solitaire.

Two suspected escape accomplices have been interrogated and released.

Reporters from RUV spoke with passengers from the plane who said they noticed nothing unusual during the flight, apart from the fact that Katrín was flying coach.

This means it’s possible that the man allegedly behind the biggest crime in Iceland’s history could have been seatmates with their country’s PM.

Stefánsson may not have even shown a fake or assumed passport to escape. Iceland is not a member of the European Union, which would have made traveling internationally without a passport easier. It is a part of the Schengen zone of 26 European states who have abolished passport requirements at mutual borders. This means he didn’t need a passport to travel between Iceland and Sweden. Police are looking into whether he may have landed in Stockholm and travelled elsewhere on another passport.

Katrín met later on Tuesday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi’s government has been weary of cryptocurrency scammers in India and discussed banning bitcoin, but hinted that India might create its own cryptocurrency called the Lakshmi.

Interpol has an arrest warrant for Stefánsson.

This is the best crime ever. Someone please buy the movie rights to this article.


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Brendan Sullivan is a writer, producer, and author of the memoir Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives. Disclosure: he owns cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter.