Last year, Sindri Stefansson was arrested for his part in what has been described as the biggest heist Iceland has seen – over $2 million worth of Bitcoin mining equipment stolen in an operation that left police baffled. He has now been jailed for four and a half years along with his team of thieves.
‘Big Bitcoin Heist’
Sindri Por Stefansson hit headlines last year after managing to escape from his jail cell following his arrest for stealing millions of dollars of mining equipment. Local media have since reported that he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment last week. His six other partners in crime were jailed for a total of nine years and seven months. Advania, the mining company that the gear was stolen from, received over $200,000 in compensation.
The crime, dubbed the ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’ by the media, saw the men steal over 600 mining computers from Advania. The equipment has yet to be recovered. Stefansson managed to escape from Sogn prison and board a flight to Stockholm at the international airport in Keflavik. According to police, he was using someone else’s passport. In an even stranger twist, Stefansson found himself on the same plane as the country’s prime minister while on the run. He was later arrested in Amsterdam.
In an interview with the New York Times, Stefansson said he was looking at international flights on his phone – which weren’t prohibited in his prison – before he booked one and climbed out of his low-security jail cell window. After hitchhiking to Keflavik, he grabbed a plane from the country’s largest airport to Stockholm and from there got to Amsterdam via train, bus and taxi.
Not the First Heist
Stefansson’s case made headlines around the world because low-crime Iceland, with its population of little over 338,000, is a difficult place to be a fugitive – let alone flee from. In the heist, Stefansson and his crew were reportedly able to steal 225 fully functional Bitmain mining rigs with the help of an insider, and wore security uniforms as part of their deception.
It wasn’t their first attempt to steal from bitcoin miners, either. In December 2017 the group had stolen 100 mining rigs from Algrim Consulting and later tried to steal from the Borealis Data Center (BDC), but were unable to get away with their haul after they set off an alarm. Police revealed the group also tried to steal from BDC Mines a couple of days later but again failed, though were successful at the Borgarnes mining facility. There was a further attempt at BDC Mines but alarms again foiled their plans. Iceland has become a hotspot for bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining due its large amount of renewable energy and cold weather which helps keeps computers cool.
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Images via Shutterstock and the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police.
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