Europe’s prison escapees have been increasingly innovative in recent years

EPA-EFE//PAUL ZINKEN

Europe’s prison escapees have been increasingly innovative in recent years


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Prison breaks have been a theme of Hollywood films for years, some of which were inspired by real events. Intelligence and creativity helped the escapees’ dreams come true with some prisoners taking advantage of their excess free time to plan a detailed escape.

An escape addict

Escaping from prison in Denmark doesn’t generally incur additional jail time for inmates. This may be the reason why Brian Bo Larsen planned to escape from his incarceration on 22 separate occasions.

Danish prisons are considered “comfortable” compared to those depicted in films. They lack long walls and electric wires and prisoners can eat with their families once a week while walking around in their own clothes.

Larsen has done it from different prisons using some out of the ordinary tools including screwdrivers, water hoses, trash cans, bulldozers. The most spectacular of his escapes occurred when he borrowed a bulldozer and crashed it through the walls. He freed himself and 13 other prisoners but ended up being caught again when he decided to steal a car when he and his girlfriend were too tired to continue walking.

Commando

Antonio Ferrara, an inveterate charmer, managed to flee from prison twice in France. He was a member of a “Dream Team” of bank robbers who were all wanted by Interpol. Ferrara was an expert in explosives, a skill he used to blow up  bank vaults.

After five years in prison, he’d had enough and began to plan his escape. Six men drove up to the prison gate in fake police cars, uniforms, and balaclavas, then blew up the front gates with grenade launchers. Ferrara opened his cell door with a stick of dynamite, which was most likely given to him by a guard, and in 10 minutes he was out. He was on the run for the better part of four months before being picked up, again, by French police in a café in Paris.

Robin Hood on a helicopter

Being a specialist in theft and kidnapping is usually not part of one’s resume that separates them from an average criminal; but in the case of Greek national Vassilis Paleokostas, his skills helped him earn a reputation as a modern-day Robin Hood due to his habit of stealing millions of euros from state-owned banks and kidnapping industrialists.

Paleokostas, who was lionised by a Greek public that had suffered under difficult economic conditions, escaped from prison twice by stealing a helicopter that had landed in the prison yard. He remains a fugitive-at-large.

On-the-run by smartphone

British-born Neil Moore was able to escape from prison using only his smartphone. Instead of asking for cigarettes, he asked for a smartphone to make his time in prison more comfortable. He built a fake web site, one that was a passable duplicate of the court’s website, and sent an email to the prison administrators ordering his release. It worked perfectly and Moore walked out of prison as if he’d been paroled.

Three days later, however, he decided to turn himself in after coming to the conclusion that he could escape anytime he wanted.

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