Iceland’s Bitcoin bandit sentenced for stealing mining rigs

The mining rig thief has been sentenced after escaping jail by booking a flight in his cell.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

The man responsible for stealing millions of dollars' worth of cryptocurrency mining equipment in Iceland has been sentenced to four and a half years in jail for his crimes.

According to local media reports published this week, Sindri Þór Stefánsson was awarded his jail term after being returned to Iceland following a bold escape attempt.

Last year, law enforcement investigated the theft of equipment stolen from three data centers in the country. In total, roughly 600 systems had been taken in separate heists.

Iceland has been encouraging businesses to host their data centers in the country for years. The country's hydroelectric power, low energy costs, and cold temperatures are an ideal combination for data centers and data storage, and within the past few years, cryptocurrency operations -- which require hefty energy usage -- have become common.

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Worth close to $2 million at the time, the stolen mining rigs equipped with the hardware required to mine for Bitcoin (BTC), a feat often beyond the capabilities of standard PCs today.

Iceland has a population of roughly 340,000 and a low crime rate, and so the audacious theft was closely watched by the general public. 

In total, a police investigation led to eleven individuals being arrested and seven of those were charged.

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Stefánsson was among those charged and was given the most severe sentence. While others involved in the theft have or are serving terms ranging from six months to two and a half years, the man was not happy to stay in low-security prison while being detained and waiting for his day in court, and so decided to go for a wander.

According to the New York Times, escape was easy -- in fact, Stefánsson booked a flight on his phone while in the prison, hopped out of the window, flagged down a taxi, made his way to the airport, and boarded a flight to Stockholm.

In an amusing twist of fate, Iceland's Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir was reportedly on the same flight as the criminal made his getaway.

However, Stefánsson was later captured after making his way to Amsterdam and returned to Iceland to serve out his term.

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Advania, the company whose systems were stolen, has received roughly $270,000 in compensation, but the missing mining rigs have never been recovered.

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