Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Austrian Court Gives Stolen Money Back to Robber

In one of those crime stories that warms the cockles of your heart, an Austrian bank robber has been given the nearly $82,000 that he was convicted of stealing 19 years ago. According to, former Ertse Bank bank manager Otto Neuman and two accomplices stole over $240,000 in cash, gold bars and gold coins from the branch at which Neuman worked, but only Neuman was caught, and only one third of the stolen gold recovered. The whole affair was handled as one might expect: Neuman was tried, convicted and sentenced to three years for his part in the heist, the bank was reimbursed for its loss by the insurance company, and the insurance company received the recovered gold. The cash was held in some evidence locker at the justice ministry and forgotten until now. Nearly 20 years later, the justice ministry realized that it still had this money, which does not belong to them, and offered it to the bank. The bank turned down the offer, because they were paid by the insurance company years ago, and suffered no loss. The court also offered the insurance company the money, but the insurers claimed that they made enough money on the recovered gold to pay for their losses.

In a surprise move, because there were apparently no homeless shelters or orphanages that could have used the money, the court contacted Neuman’s lawyer, Herbert Eichenseder, and asked if Neuman wanted it, “I really didn’t believe what the court were telling me but I checked it and it was correct,” Eichenseder told the media, “I had to go into the archives in our cellar to find the details of the case as it was already 19 years old — and I managed to track down the man’s details and contacted him to tell him the news.

“To say that he was surprised was an understatement, but he provided his bank account details and the money has now been transferred.”

So, it turns out, crime really does pay.

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