Bright and early in the morning, a few days before Christmas, a stranger strolled into a bank in a small town where everyone knows each other. He pulled a gun and proceeded to rob the bank. He made his getaway and was promptly caught in the town square.
Did this happen in the lawless days of the Old West? Was it a desperate heist pulled off by a John Dillinger wannabe in the 1930s? Surely it was another of Florida Man’s wacky stunts.
Not even close. It happened just a couple months ago in Svalbard.
Where, you ask?
Located a few hundred miles from the North Pole, Svalbard is an icy archipelago with a population of less than 3,000. It’s got more polar bears than people. There’s only one way out of town in the winter, and it’s by airplane. Nobody has ever tried to rob the local bank before. Ever. To no one’s surprise, the bank robber was arrested less than 30 minutes after his ill-conceived heist.
So many questions occur to the inquisitive mind.
Did the crook travel to Svalbard just to rob the bank? Is that the kind of tourist he is — instead of going to the local museum, visiting a famous monument, or sampling the regional delicacies, he robs the bank at every Instagram-worthy vacation destination he visits?
Why would he rob a bank in the arctic — and in the dark heart of winter, no less — where he faced temperatures dropping as low as -20.8°C? Does he take the term “cold, hard cash” literally?
Did he think nobody would notice an armed man fleeing the scene of the crime, toting a gun and an armload of money?
Did he assume Svalbard’s 24-hour darkness would shield him while forgetting that he, a stranger in a strange land, would be forced to stumble down dim, unfamiliar streets, vainly searching for an escape route?
How did he plan to make his getaway? Did he think he could jump a plane to Norway? Svalbard isn’t exactly an international hub.
Did he plan to hide until the heat was off? Where? In the pitch-black, glacier-studded wasteland surrounding the town?
What about the ravenous polar bears roaming the pitch-black, glacier-studded wasteland surrounding the town? Did he even take them into account?
And what about the infamous gun-toting ways of Svalbard’s residents (a necessity, thanks to all those ravenous polar bears)? Did he think his measly firearm would be a match for hundreds of well-armed citizens?
My guess is every one of these questions can be answered with a single word.