Northernmost bank robbery goes south

Longyearbyen, Svalbard, is the unlikely site of an armed bank robbery


Photo: Flickr / Christopher Michel
Longyearbyen was an unlikely and unfortunate setting for an armed bank robbery.

The Local

An armed man has robbed a bank in the world’s northernmost settlement on Norway’s remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, but he was caught shortly after, authorities said on Dec. 21.

The heist was the first bank robbery in living memory in the territory, which is located in the Arctic Ocean, about halfway between continental Norway and the North Pole.

“There was an armed robbery at around 10:40 a.m.,” Terje Carlsen, a spokesman for the local governor, told AFP.

“A man with a gun seized a sum of money. He was arrested quite quickly” in the center of Longyearbyen, the capital, he added.

Police said the suspected robber was a foreigner traveling in the region who was sent to the northern town of Tromsø on the mainland where he will be questioned.

Authorities declined to give more details about the suspect’s identity, the amount stolen, or the weapon used in the robbery.

The odds of the heist succeeding were always low on the archipelago, famous for glaciers and its polar bears who outnumber residents. Longyearbyen has around 2,000 inhabitants, and practically everyone knows each other. The airport is the main means of leaving the settlement.

Commenters on social media were quick to make fun of the failed bank robbery.

“The most reckless bank robbery in Norwegian history?” said one Twitter user.

“He probably forgot to think about his escape route,” commented another.

Winter temperatures in Svalbard regularly plunge to below minus 20°C (minus 4°F) and can drop below minus 40°.

This article was originally published on The Local.

This article originally appeared in the January 11, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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