The goofiest thefts in the Czech Republic

21-06-2003

Recently I came across a list of the goofiest thefts in the Czech Republic. At a time when thieves siphon away millions from bank accounts without even coming close to the building it was amusing to read about "old-school" thievery and the unbelievable things that people could actually steal. Undisputedly the heaviest loot which a thief ever made off with were three steam locomotives. You think that stealing a locomotive would arouse suspicion? Think again. In 1995 an enterprising thief simply attached them to an electric powered locomotive and drove them all the way from Havlickuv Brod to Prague where he sold them as scrap metal for close to a million crowns. The lesson to be learnt from this is that if you are going to steal - do it in grand style. An excellent example of this is a certain Czech dentist who managed to sell Karlstejn Castle to a rich American in the years between the two world wars. Of course he gave the buyer a tour of the place and even hosted a dinner at the castle with his friends dressed up as servants. He is said to have escaped to the United States where he later sold another unsuspecting American a whole tram line in Prague. What on earth the buyer wanted to do with a tram line in Prague is beyond me, but a good salesman can obviously sell anything.

Some of the things that get stolen are also unbelievable. According to police records, in 2001 someone stole 720 rolls of toilet paper and there is also a record of the biggest peanut robbery in town. It happened in 1997 when someone made off with 3,000 boxes of salted peanuts. Some thieves are obviously collectors of bizarre objects. One stole a canon from the Litvinov Museum, another the skull of a nobleman who was executed on the Old Town Square in 1621.

Many of these truly bizarre robberies have never been traced, but in some cases the police have a fairly easy job. A few months ago the police could hardly believe their eyes when they arrived to investigate the theft of a car radio. Inside the car they found the thief's wallet with his photograph, several ID cards, his address and plenty of cash. They found the thief patiently waiting for them at home, ready to admit all and saying that he was "really overworked". So you see, thievery is by no means easy and doing an honest day's work is far less taxing.

21-06-2003