World / Crime & Legal

First ever Arctic bank robbery goes south


A man has robbed a bank on the northernmost settlement in the world — a remote Arctic island in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard — but was caught hours later, authorities said on Friday.

The heist was the first ever bank robbery in living memory on 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.,” said Terje Carlsen, a spokesman for the local governor.

The odds of the heist succeeding were, however, always low on the archipelago, famous for glaciers and ice caps.

The capital, Longyearbyen, has around 2,000 inhabitants and practically everyone knows each other. The airport is the main means of leaving the settlement.

“A man with a firearm seized a sum of money. He was arrested quite quickly,” Carlsen said.

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

Commentators 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.

The Svalbard archipelago, roughly twice the size of Belgium, lies about 1,000 km (600 miles) from the North Pole.

Temperatures in winter regularly plunge to below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) and can drop below minus 40.