Chewbacca stolen in ‘terrorist attack’ on Swiss hair salon

Fear turned to disbelief on Monday afternoon at a hairdressing salon in the city of St Gallen when a masked man stormed the building shouting ‘terrorist attack’.

Chewbacca stolen in ‘terrorist attack’ on Swiss hair salon
There's now only one Chewbacca in the salon's window display. Photo: Coiffure X

Trainee hairdresser Severine Tschirren was in the Coiffure X salon at the time and told local paper the St Gallen Tagblatt that she initially thought he was going to raid the till.

But instead the man went to the window display, tore down a curtain and grabbed one of two cardboard cut-outs of the Star Wars character Chewbacca.

He then ran out of the building with the giant cut-out, dropping a note on the floor that said he must free the hairy creature “because he suffers from Stockholm Syndrome”, referring to the psychological condition where a victim feels attached to their captor.

Tschirren, 20, told the paper she was “full of shock” and didn’t know what to do.

Staff called the police who at first didn’t believe them, she said, adding that she found that pretty funny. “You cannot invent something like that,” she said.

St Gallen police confirmed the existence of the handwritten note and said they attended the scene on Monday, but hadn’t received an official complaint.

“I had to laugh when I heard the story for the first time,” a police spokesman told radio station FM1 Today.

Tschirren told the radio station police advised her to tie up the thief should he come back to steal the second cut-out figure, and that she had now equipped herself with pepper spray just in case.

Salon owner Ivan Herb told the media he thought the thief either had psychological troubles or was carrying out a student prank.

“If it was supposed to be a joke, it wasn’t funny,” he told newspaper 20 Minutes.

The salon is known in the city for its window displays. Photo: Coiffure X

Speaking to The Local, Herb said staff at the salon were initially scared after the man said it was a terrorist attack.

“In the first moments yes,” he said, before quickly realizing it was no such thing.

He told the media he did not lodge an official complaint to police because he felt “that would probably do nothing” but is offering a 100 franc reward for the return of Chewbacca, which is about the value of the cut-out.

“We hope we will get Chewbacca back,” Herb told The Local, adding that he is making a ‘Chewbacca Wanted’ poster to put up in the shop.

He also admitted that the incident has whipped up plenty of interest for the salon, which has been running for 30 years.

“It’s great for us!” he laughed.

It’s not the only theft of a fictional character in the St Gallen area this week.

A duck-shaped garden ornament known as ‘little Picozzo’ was stolen from the garden of a 60-year-old in Bad Ragaz sometime between last Friday and Monday, St Gallen police said in a statement.

The figure has a value of more than 1,000 francs

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Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

Four suspected members or sympathisers of the Islamic State group have been detained in Germany and Switzerland in a cross-border operation, prosecutors from the two countries said Tuesday.

Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

In Switzerland, three people were picked up in the cantons of Zurich, Sankt Gallen and Lucerne, national authorities said, adding that seven further searches were also carried out.

The suspects, whose identities were not released, are accused of “participation in or support for the outlawed organisation Islamic State”.

In Germany, a man was detained in the western town of Roemerberg, federal prosecutors said.

Identified only as Aleem N., he is “strongly suspected of preparing a serious violent attack threatening the security of the state and of belonging to a foreign terrorist organisation”.

He is believed to have attempted to travel from Germany via Turkey to Syria in September 2020.

“In Syria, the suspect wanted to join the foreign terrorist organisation Islamic State, attain military training and then take part in combat or terrorist attacks,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

However, Aleem N. was unable to reach Syria for reasons that were not immediately clear and returned to Germany.

“At the latest in April 2021 he joined Isis in Germany and carried out vast propaganda activities for the group,” prosecutors said.

His duties included “mainly translating official texts, videos and audio messages by Isis from Arabic into German and distributing them on various Telegram channels in German-speaking areas”.

“Isis considered such activities to be equivalent to taking part directly in violent jihad,” it added.

The suspect is also believed to have taken part in a telephone conversation with Isis leaders in late 2021 to “verify his reliability” before travelling to “IS zones of operation”.

However, “a further attempt” to reach Syria in January 2022 “failed again”.

Aleem N. was to appear on Tuesday before a federal judge who will decide whether to remand him in custody.

German intelligence services estimate that more than 1,150 people have travelled from Germany to Iraq and Syria since 2011 for Islamist reasons.

More than a third have since returned to Germany, while at least 270 have been killed in Iraq or Syria.

“A low three-digit-number” are currently detained in the two countries, according to the intelligence services’ 2021 report.