On April 18th, an alleged culprit behind Iceland’s “Big Bitcoin Heist” — in which 600 crypto-mining computers were stolen — escaped a low-security prison and fled the country in a plane that coincidentally also carried Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
Although the Northern European island country is low on criminal activities, the crypto heist is one of the most high-profile burglaries it’s witnessed in recent years, and the escape of the mastermind behind the theft only adds fuel to the drama’s ongoing fire.
Low-Security Taken Advantage Of
Per the Associated Press, the accused criminal Sindri Thor Stefansson was being held at a low-security prison situated in the rural southernmost region of the country. According to reports, the prison is unfenced and inmates have complete access to telephone and internet. Moreover, prison guards only realized the situation long after the escape.
Investigators have determined Stefansson escaped from the window of the prison and made a 60-mile trek towards the largest airport in the country, Keflavik International Airport. Stefansson then boarded a flight for Stockholm, which also simultaneously carried Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, traveling himself to Stockholm to meet the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Stefansson was one of the 11 alleged robbers originally apprehended by the Iceland police for a series of a series of crypto-mining gear thefts equivalent to approximately $2 million USD in value. The burglaries occurred in December last year and January this year across multiple sites in Iceland. At the time, the Reykjanes District court ordered the police to keep only two of the accused thieves in custody, Stefansson being one of them.
International Arrest Warrant Issued
Iceland is not a European Union member but does benefit from the Schengen Agreement, wherein citizens of the agreement member countries are not required to show passport while traveling to the Schengen Zone.
In reference to the case, Swedish Police spokesman Stefan Dangardt has stated that an international arrest warrant has been issued against Stefansson. Authorities of other European countries have also been notified. For now, law enforcement officials are certain that the convict had an accomplice that helped him flee.
As yet, the stolen mining gear has not been recovered. Dr. Kevin Curran, a professor of cybersecurity at Ulster University, said:
“Unlike traditional banking mechanisms, blockchain currencies can be stolen and moved to thieves’ accounts with no means of recovery. Nothing can bring it back.”
Iceland has become a hotbed for crypto mining businesses in recent weeks due to the nation’s abundant sources of renewable energy and its cold weather.
Will security agencies be able to catch the convict? Share your views in the comments section.
Images via PYMNTS, Wikipedia