You’d have to be a back-woods hermit living a completely Luddite existence not to have heard about the recent, daring heist at a Stockholm-area cash depot. In September, a gang of ballsy lads stole a helicopter, flew to Västberga, hovered above a G4S building, smashed through the ceiling, blasted their way into the vaults, hoisted out an as-yet unspecified amount of moolah (rumoured to be into the hundreds of millions of kronor), clambered back onto their pilfered bird, and flew off into the early morning darkness without a shot being fired, no injuries, no hostages, and no mid-air or ground-based police chase. (A collection of articles on the caper can be found here.) Since then a number of suspects have been arrested, an international manhunt has been launched, suspicions of organized crime involvement have swirled around, G4S has offered a 7 million kronor reward for information, and accusations of slow police response, prior intelligence being ignored, and lax security have been leveled against all sorts of parties involved in bringing this gang to justice.
This situation is blatantly criminal, outrageous, unacceptable, and deserves swift and appropriate resolution in order to bring the guilty parties to justice. No argument here. However, am I the only one who, in some ways, respects these ne’er-do-wells, not for their actions per se, but for the meticulous, calculated, and ultimately violence-free way in which they executed this plan? I’m not saying I condone it, but had they gotten away with it, I think this would go down in Swedish lore as a clear example of nefarious – yet admirable – planning at its best.
Think of the now decades-old, unsolved case of D. B. Cooper. Back in ‘71 this unassuming gent boarded a plane in Oregon, told an attendant mid-flight that he had a bomb, demanded $200,000 and 4 parachutes, and after receiving his booty during a brief stop – and releasing all 36 passengers – he jumped from the plane somewhere over Washington, never to be seen or heard from again. He reportedly was very cordial and calm throughout the ordeal, paid for his mid-hijack drinks, and even requested that the flight crew be provided a meal during the stopover. Theories abound as to his fate, identity, and motives, but after so many years of false leads and dead ends, D. B. Cooper has become a revered legend, not some whack-job who hijacked a jetliner for a few bucks.
Sure, both capers had elements of terror involved. People were threatened, scared. Ill-gotten gains were spirited away, baffling authorities and creating a public buzz of speculation and water cooler gossip. But as was the case with D. B. Cooper, this latest heist saw no injuries, minimal property damage, and a level of cunning that, while perhaps abhorrent and inexcusable, can be respected and viewed with amazement.
Do I think these lads should be congratulated, admired, or even acquitted of their guilt (if proven) just because no one got hurt and they evidently sport balls of steel? Of course not. Justice should be pursued here, whatever that entails. But, had they flown off that morning, ditched the ‘copter, and disappeared into the mist, I would have given them a subtle thumbs-up. If you’re going to plan and execute a daring, multi-million kronor heist, that’s certainly a decent example of how to do it right.