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Bitcoin heist suspect escapes from Iceland jail, hops on plane to Sweden

Published Apr 19th, 2018 5:53PM EDT
Bitcoin Mining Rig
Image: Ben Cawthra/REX/Shutterstock

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A man suspected of having stolen 600 Bitcoin mining rigs in Iceland was able to break out of jail and then board a plane to Sweden. This actually happened, it’s not a plot for a movie of questionable quality.

Because of its cold climate and its cheap renewable energy, Iceland is very attractive to speculators looking to mine cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. These specialized computers, the mining rigs, require plenty of power to create Bitcoin and other digital coins, and they can be quite expensive. So when a person manages to steal 600 of them, that’s a big deal.

The name of the man is Sindri Thor Stefansson, who’s apparently the mastermind behind the heist. It’s still unclear what happened with the 600 computers, but they haven’t popped up in Iceland. The country is tiny, so it’s likely someone would have noticed them.

Stefansson was arrested by local police in January according to Associated Press, He was transferred to Sogn prison in rural Iceland only 10 days ago, but he did not spend too much time there.

That jail, for that matter, was a low-security one, where inmates had access to the internet and phones. All Stefansson had to do was to break a window and get out. And that’s precisely what he did. The prison didn’t even have a fence.

The man then traveled some 59 miles to Iceland’s international airport in Keflavik where he boarded a plane bought in someone else’s name.

Stefansson is definitely not stupid. Iceland is part of Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel zone which means he didn’t have to show a passport to anybody when boarding the flight.

He also must have had help, both with the transportation to the airport and with the purchase of the ticket.

Given the way he behaved, it’s likely that he’s indeed the mastermind behind the heist. Iceland police arrested 11 people who were involved in four burglaries in December and January involving the Bitcoin miners. This is considered Iceland’s most prominent heist yet, as the equipment is valued at $2 million.

The cherry on top is that the prime minister of Iceland, Katrin Jakobsdottir, was on the same plane that Stefansson boarded using his fake ticket. Icelandic police did not think he’d be a flight risk.

Swedish police, meanwhile, made no arrests, so the suspect is still on the run somewhere in Europe. Maybe someone should base a movie on all of this…

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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