Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

Categories: Europe

Among the many amazing criminal talents, German Arno Funke holds a special place. He extorted money from large stores and reputable companies using daring and incredible methods. Funke passionately wanted to get rich at any cost and even took the pseudonym Dagobert. This is how the well-known Disney character Scrooge McDuck is called in Germany. The criminal kept the police in suspense for several years, and ordinary citizens considered him a hero.

Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

Arno Funke's childhood cannot be called prosperous. The parents were not too interested in raising their son and he grew up shy and withdrawn. Young Arno loved to draw, but his work looked scary. The main themes of the boy's works were loneliness and his fears.

Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

By the age of 38, Funke had achieved nothing in his life. Possessing a strong intellect, he could not find himself in this world. Arno gradually became an alcoholic and increasingly thought about suicide. But in 1988, the man realized that he had absolutely nothing to lose, so he could take a risk and try his hand at the lucrative criminal business of blackmail.

Arno Funke chose an unusual method of extortion. On the night of May 25, 1988, a bomb went off in the Berlin department store Kaufhaus des Westens. It was planted in the men's clothing department and the explosion literally tore it to pieces. Since the store was not working at that time, no one was hurt, but the damage was considerable - 250 thousand marks.

Soon the trading house received an anonymous letter. In it, an unknown person demanded that 500 thousand marks be handed over to him, otherwise he promised to continue blowing up stores. The company, fearing for the lives of employees and customers, paid this amount. Having picked up a bag full of money at the appointed place, Funke began a new life.

Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

He traveled abroad, where he exchanged money with banknote numbers recorded by the police. Having laundered a round sum in this way, the successful criminal went on a spree to the Philippines. There he found his love, with whom he returned to Germany. After the wedding, Funke counted his "cash" and discovered that there were less than 100 thousand marks left. The amount is considerable, but Arno had already gotten a taste for it and understood that it would not last long.

So the man retreated back into his workshop to make a new bomb. In June 1992, Arno Funke went to work again. He headed to Hamburg, where he mined a store of the large Karstadt chain. At one o'clock in the morning, a bomb made from a piece of steel pipe exploded in the china department. Again, there were no casualties, but the damage done to the company impressed everyone.

The next day, a letter from the extortionist arrived at the Karstadt company office. Now he demanded a million marks. If they agree, the company's managers must respond through the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper. In the advertisement department, the extortionist wanted to see a message: “Dagobert sends greetings to his nephews.” This was the first time Funke used a pseudonym.

Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

The victims of the ransomware agreed to pay. A couple of weeks later, Dagobert telephoned with instructions on how to proceed. Two police officers were supposed to come to the lockers of one of the Hamburg train stations. There in one of the cells there were further instructions. The cell contained an ingenious container with a clock mechanism and a letter.

Dagobert demanded that the entire amount be placed in a container, and then attached from below to the last carriage of the Hamburg-Berlin fast train. The police did everything according to the instructions, but they put a capture group into the same express car. Everything was absolutely ready to apprehend the daring blackmailer. The train set off.

The law enforcement officers were calm. The expert studied the clock mechanism and determined that it would work 100 km from Hamburg and a box with a million would fall onto the rails. An ambush was already waiting for the villain there. But Arno Funke fooled everyone around his finger. He activated the uncoupling device over the radio as soon as the train left the city. The clock mechanism, which the technicians examined so carefully, turned out to be a sham.

Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

Funke took the box and successfully escaped. But he was disappointed - the police filled the container with cut paper instead of banknotes. The guards of the law were so confident in the success of their operation that they were not afraid to take a risk and slip in a fake. Disappointed, Arno decided not to retreat and continued to attack the Karstadt stores.

For the next operation he went to Bremen. There, an angry Dagobert planted a particularly powerful device in the Karstadt. At night there was an explosion, but this time a fire also started. Several departments were on fire, and the automatic fire extinguishing system was struggling to pump water into the premises. Fire and moisture ruined goods worth 6 million marks - a huge amount.

On April 19, 1993, a new attempt was made to receive money from the obstinate company. This time it was necessary to pick up a key from the storage room that would open the sand box in the parking lot. The money should have been put there in a regular bag. It seems the criminal did something stupid. Dozens of plainclothes police officers roamed the area, keeping a close eye on the parking lot. But several hours passed, but the blackmailer never came.

Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

Looking into the box, the police were speechless. The bag of money disappeared, and there was a hole in the floor. It turned out that the large box stood on a sewer hatch, and its bottom was false. The cunning Dagobert took the loot immediately after the lid was closed. So a group of police officers watched the empty box for several hours.

Dagobert's operation went brilliantly. He came to the parking lot early, disguised as a road worker, and cut out the bottom of the sand box. He installed it on an open sewer hatch, and disguised the opening with a thin layer of concrete. When the money was in place, Funke broke through this layer from below, took the package and disappeared through underground communications.

But Dagobert’s efforts were again in vain - the package again contained a “doll” made of paper. The criminal flew into a rage - he realized that he was not being taken seriously. On December 6, 1993, he again detonated a bomb at night in the Karstadt store. And again, not a single casualty and significant damage to premises and goods. The company's leaders begin to understand that Dagobert is not to be trifled with. This time they decided to put real money in the cache.

Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

Once again, the extortionist came up with a new scheme. This time, the messenger, after Dagobert's call, had to carry a bag of bills at night to an abandoned railway line. There, the criminal installed a self-propelled trolley, which should take the money to him. This time we are talking about 1.4 million marks. The messenger did everything exactly - he put the bag in the trolley and pressed the button. The cart rolled off into the darkness at high speed.

It seems like everything should go perfectly. But no - the trolley derailed 23 meters from the place where Arno Funke was waiting for it. Dagobert was again left with nothing. Hundreds of police officers were looking for him and the blackmailer lay low. There was no money left from the first successful operation and Funke was in desperate need of finance. He lived on unemployment benefits, which were barely enough to cover the basic necessities.

To arrange another extortion, Funke went into debt. In a hurry, the criminal began to make mistakes that led to his collapse. During another threatening call to the office of the ill-fated Karstadt, he was arrested. The court qualified Arno's crimes as extortion, aggravated by threats of direct violence. He was sentenced to 9.5 years in prison.

Arno Funke, nicknamed Dagobert, is Germany's most inventive blackmailer

But Dagobert was released early, after 6 years. In conclusion, he wasted no time in remembering his drawing skills. Funke found work as a cartoonist for a satirical magazine and turned his cell into an artist's studio. He also wrote books. In 1998, the first one was published, “My Life Under the Mask of Dagobert.” In 2004, already free, he published a collection of comics, “Duck with a Crispy Crust,” in which he told an original story about his adventures.

Arno Funke invented complex ways to withdraw money, but he was plagued by failures. But painting thief Stefan Breitwieser didn’t have to try very hard. Due to the negligence of museum employees, he removed 200 valuable paintings from among the white ones.

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