French gangster escapes prison a second time: 5 other serial jailbreakers from around the world

Redoine Faid, 46, escaped from Reau Penitentiary by hijacking a helicopter. It was the second time he had broken out of prison.
Redoine Faid, 46, escaped from Reau Penitentiary by hijacking a helicopter. It was the second time he had broken out of prison.PHOTO: REUTERS

With the help of three armed confederates, Redoine Faid, 46, broke out of a prison in Reau near Paris by hijacking a helicopter on Sunday (July 1).

It was the second time Faid had pulled off a daring and Hollywood-esque prison break; the first was in 2013, when he took prison guards hostage and used dynamite to blast his way to freedom.

Here are five other jailbreakers from around the world who have managed to escape multiple times:

1. Brian Bo Larsen (Denmark)

In 2014, Danish convict Brian Bo Larsen escaped from a Copenhagen prison by sawing off the bars of his window and clambering up to the roof with a rope ladder. He then used a second rope ladder to climb out of the prison compound.

However, his freedom was short-lived as he was recaptured shortly after when he crashed a stolen car while on drugs. He has reportedly escaped from prison more than 20 times using a variety of methods, including hiding in a waste container and running away when it was emptied.

2. Jacques Mesrine (Canada and France)

In the 1960s and 70s, Jacques Mesrine gained a reputation for his daring robberies and his uncanny ability to evade the French police. He came to be known as the "Robin Hood of Paris" for his modus operandi of kidnapping and robbing the rich, and supposedly sharing his ill-gotten gains with the poor and homeless.

 

He has escaped from prisons in both Canada and France five times between 1969 and 1978. A year after his final escape from La Sante Prison in Paris, he was tracked down and killed in the ensuing shoot-out.

Mesrine was labelled "public enemy number one" by French police, but reportedly enjoyed popularity and adoration from the masses. A master of disguise with charisma and rugged good looks, Mesrine is the subject of a number of films and has inspired both rock bands and novelists. Faid, a fan of crime films, has reportedly called Mesrine his "hero".

3. Yoshie Shiratori (Japan)

In just over 10 years, Yoshie Shiratori, a Japanese man from Aomori Prefecture, escaped from four different prisons.

He had been arrested on suspicion of murder and robbery in 1933, but managed to escape from Aomori Prison in 1936 after reportedly picking the locks on his handcuffs.

After being recaptured, he escaped again from Akita Prison by crawling out through an air vent in 1942, and again from Abashiri Prison by gradually corroding his handcuffs with miso soup.

He made his final prison break by sawing a hole in the floor of his cell at Sapporo Prison with a sheet of metal in 1946.

Shiratori eventually gave himself up in 1948 and served his sentence until 1961, when he was paroled. He died of a heart attack in 1979 and his story became the subject of Hagoku (Japanese for prison break), a novel by Akira Yoshimura that was published in 1985. Hagoku was also adapted as a TV movie by Japan's national broadcaster, NHK.

4. Collen Chauke (South Africa)

Collen Chauke escaped from a prison in Pretoria with five other inmates in 1997 after taking a guard hostage. He had been serving a sentence for the robbery of a large sum of money from a cash depot.

While on the run, he gave interviews to the press and complained about being falsely implicated. He also reportedly sent Christmas cards to detectives to taunt them about failing to recapture him by the deadline set by South African police. He was able to travel extensively while on the run, and even managed to fly to Switzerland and Swaziland on false passports.

Although he was recaptured after being dubbed South Africa's most wanted criminal in 1998, he managed to escape and evaded the police for another year. He was captured again in 1999 and sentenced to more than 18 years in prison.

While still in custody, he died at a hospital in 2003. Chauke's first escape was from Johannesburg Prison in 1993 after serving just one month of his four-year sentence for stealing a car.

5. Willie Sutton (United States)

Medical students may know bank robber Willie Sutton as the unlikely namesake of Sutton's law, the principle of first considering what is most obvious and making a diagnosis.

It was coined after Sutton purportedly replied to a reporter's query on why he robbed banks with the quip, "Because that's where the money is". Sutton later denied having said this.

Sutton is known for breaking out of prison three times in his forty-year criminal career.

In 1932, he escaped from Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York by scaling the prison walls, and was caught two years later. He was then sent to Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, but managed to tunnel his way out after four failed escape attempts.

He was recaptured just a day later and sentenced to life imprisonment. After he was transferred to Philadelphia County Prison, he managed to escape a third time in 1947 by impersonating a prison guard.

He reportedly shouted, "It's all right!" when a searchlight spotted him, and he managed to use a ladder to escape over the walls without anyone stopping him.

He was finally caught again in 1952 after being ranked 11th on the FBI's list of most wanted criminals.