Crypto-friendly Iceland witnessed its first massive virtual currency related theft back in December and January when bitcoin mining equipment worth millions of dollars were stolen from data centers in the country. Now, all hopes of recovering the stolen machines may be shattered as the number one suspect has vanished from police custody.
In what was termed the “Big Bitcoin Heist,” the prime suspect, has escaped from detention and flown to Sweden from his low-security prison. He’s now in Sweden.
According to a local news source, Frettabladid, the alleged master criminal has said that he was legally free to travel at the time he left police custody.
Sindri Thor Stefansson, the ultimate suspect in the most significant Iceland crypto-related heist that saw over 600 bitcoin mining computers and other hardware estimated at nearly $2 million, seamlessly left the prison on April 17, 2018, and boarded the same flight as Iceland’s prime minister to Sweden on April 19.
As per reports from Frettabladid, the suspect had sent in a letter to them claiming he was held without any substantial evidence for several months before he escaped from the guardhouse.
Expired Order of Arrest
According to Stefansson, the order of detention against him expired on April 16, 2018, and all efforts by the police force toward the renewal of his custody by ten days proved futile as a judge adjourned the decision for 24 hours. The alleged criminal now used this 24-hour window to escape from custody. As a result, Stefansson claims he was a free man by law at the time he left prison.
In his words (roughly translated), “I simply refuse to be in prison of my own will, especially when the police threaten to arrest me without explanation,” he wrote, adding that:
“I have been in custody for two and a half months unsuccessfully, without evidence, but only because of police suspicion. That’s what I’m angry about. I have not been published a single testimony, and I was threatened and threatened with longer isolation while isolation took place.”
At current, no one can say for sure where Stefansson is, however, the police suspect that he is in Spain.
While the stolen ‘money making machines’ is still missing without a trace whatsoever, the big crypto whales who own the equipment have placed a $60,000 reward for anyone who has valuable hints that could lead to recovering the bitcoin mining machines.
The suspect has told local news sources that he’s willing to return home, provided the police can give him some concrete assurance that he won’t be re-arrested. “I’m working on negotiating with the police in Iceland that I can get home without being arrested abroad,” he wrote.
The value of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies is continuously on the rise. Therefore the need for adequate security of data centers cannot be overemphasized. Also, there’s need to impose more stringent penalties for crimes related to digital currencies, to deter bad actors from orchestrating unlawful acts.