Mountain bandit’s signs of life

Police in central Greece yesterday stepped up yet another manhunt for the country’s most elusive criminal, who has evaded a series of arrest attempts from the security of his mountain hideout near Trikala. The new effort to catch bank robber and kidnapper Nikos Palaiocostas was spurred by the discovery, by hikers in the mountains southeast of his native Trikala, of a jeep he had stolen several weeks ago. In keeping with his image of a courteous robber with something of the Robin Hood, Palaiocostas had abandoned personal effects the vehicle’s owners had left in the car at the scene of the theft for them to find. In the past, Palaiocostas stole a car after assuring its owner he would return it undamaged and pay for its use – which he did. Palaiocostas, who is believed to have a hideout in the mountains near Trikala, has kept police on their toes since his 1990 escape from jail, where he was held for theft and burglaries. His most famous coup was the 1995 abduction of industrialist Alexandros Haitoglou, who was released for 260 million drachmas (763,000 euros).

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