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Trading  | April 18, 2018

One of the suspects in a high-profile theft that Icelandic media are calling “the big bitcoin heist” has escaped a low-security prison and fled to Sweden, the BBC and Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The man, Sindri Thor Stefansson, who is suspected of masterminding the theft of 600 bitcoin-mining rigs as escaped from custody after he climbed out his window and somehow sneaked aboard an international flight. Stefansson used another man’s passport during the escape, and was not identified until security footage was examined after he was reported missing.


The stolen rigs – which are still missing despite the police having arrest more than 20 people allegedly involved in the scheme – are worth some $2 million, per the BBC.

Stefansson was among 11 people arrested in February.

Stefansson and his crew purportedly stole the computers during four raids on data centers around Iceland. Iceland has become a favorite destination for crypto miners because of its abundant and cheap power that comes primarily from renewable sources. As we pointed out earlier this year, bitcoin miners are expected to consumer more energy than the roughly 350,000 people living in Iceland during the coming year.

As one sociology professor at the University of Iceland pointed out to the Guardian, jailbreaks in Iceland, which has famously low crime rates, are extremely rare. Typically, when somebody flees one of Iceland’s prisons it “usually means someone just fled to get drunk,” said professor Helgi Gunnlaugsson.

What’s more unusual, according to Gunnlaugsson, is that such a high profile prisoner would be held in such a low-security environment.

Professor Gunnlaugsson added that it’s “extremely difficult” to flee Iceland, or to hide.

But it apparently wasn’t a problem for Stefansson. Guards at his prison didn’t even notice that he was gone until his flight had taken off. And what’s more surprising, he somehow traversed the 60 miles of cold, hard terrain between the prison and the airport.

Yet police have made no other arrests in the case.

“He had an accomplice,” police chief Gunnar Schram told local news outlet Visir. “We are sure of that.”

Hmmm. We wonder what tipped them off?

Stefansson has been in custody since February, but was transferred to the low-security prison – an institution that more closely resembles what we in the US would call a “halfway house” – where he had access to his phone and the Internet (and could also apparently come and go as he pleased).

Iceland police issued an international warrant for Stefansson’s arrest – but Swedish police spokesman Stefan Dangardt said no arrest has been made in Sweden.

But in perhaps the most outrageous twist in an already incredible story, Stefansson traveled to Sweden on the same plane that was carrying Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, who was traveling to Sweden to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Mohdi. 


The “prison” from which Stefansson escaped is unfenced and and Stefansson was not considered dangerous so he was afforded many privileges.

We wonder if Iceland will ever catch Stefansson? By the looks of it, he appears to have made a clean escape. And thanks to the ease with which bitcoin can be transferred internationally, we imagine that – if he’s made it this far – it won’t be long until he’s reunited with his ill-gotten fortune.

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