The tenant of the apartment was not home when 33-year-old Bojan Strle, and Nebojsa Gicic and Dejan Vipic, both 37, broke through the kitchen ceiling on Monday, news site Blick reported.
The three men, all being held for drug or robbery charges, were supposed to be washing the clothes of their fellow inmates when prison officers came to collect them at 5.30pm but found they had disappeared.
“These are inmates who have proven themselves over a long period and are considered reliable. Such detainees help in the kitchen or even in the laundry," Klaus Mannhart, spokesman for the police, told Blick.
Pascal Suter, the neighbour whose ceiling now has an enormous hole where the men broke through, is less than pleased, news site Tages Anzeiger reported.
About one week ago, Suter informed the police that for the past few weeks he had heard scraping and hammering through the wall in the evenings. Despite several checks, officers found no signs that the prisoners were preparing their escape route.
Evidence suggests that the escapees did not immediately flee. They first washed themselves in Suter’s bathroom, and then got changed. They stole 400 francs ($413) and €30 ($37), as well as some clothing.
“They must have planned their escape for weeks,” Mannhart said.
This is the fifth break-out in the past 17 years since the prison became operational. So far, all previous escapees have been re-captured.