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First Ever Arctic Bank Robbery Doesn’t Go as Planned for Criminal Mastermind

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Robbing a bank is easy. Many bank tellers are instructed to comply with the demands of the bank robber, even if he or she isn’t armed. Banks are insured for such losses, which are increasingly rare. The robbing, they know, is the easy part. Criminals then have to get away. And that’s where we pick up this frigid tale of one robber who didn’t think everything through.

The crime occurred in the northernmost on a chain of remote Norwegian islands in the Arctic Ocean. The community is understandably small, situated half way between the North Pole and mainland Norway.

Such tight knit communities are often free of this kind of crime, as anonymity is crucial to success. Yet the robbery in Svalbard happened, nonetheless. It is the first robbery of this sort any of the residents have seen.

“There was an armed robbery at around 10.40am [0940 GMT],” Terje Carlsen, a spokesman for the local governor, told reporters. “A man with a gun seized a sum of money.” That pretty much describes most armed robberies.

The suspect, though, was caught in Longyearbyen, the capital. Police say he was a foreigner and had been traveling in the area.

“Authorities declined to give more details about the suspect’s identity,” The Guardian writes, “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.”

The bustling capital of Longyearbyen was no match for the unknown robber. The town only has about 2,000 inhabitants. The geographic isolation means the airport is the only practical way to leave the island.

Authorities haven’t yet said what the robber had intended to do with the money, or how he thought he might escape.

The area is home to numerous polar bears. There are more bears than people on the small island, and most of the residents are heavily armed. The chances of a successful escape seems as remote as the island itself.