The French police have had to seal off a shopping center in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, while chasing the infamous Redoine Faid, whom accomplices broke out of prison in the southeastern suburbs of Paris in a hijacked helicopter on July 1.
Faid, one of France’s most wanted men, left a car with explosives and fake license plates in the underground parking there and escaped police via staircase along with his accomplice.
A police source, cited by the French news agency AFP, said "They escaped by a hair's breadth. It happened in a matter of seconds."
The police followed the convicted repeat offender to Sarcelles after two men, one of whom was later identified as Faid, had been spotted during a random check on a suspicious car at a gas station in one of Paris’ northern suburbs and had rushed away as officers tried to approach them. AFP’s source said that a "major" search operation was underway on July 25.
Just a couple days beforehand, one of Faid’s accomplices from the bank robbery, which he was serving a 25-year sentence for, was accidentally caught at a routine road check, also north of Paris.
Redoine Faid was behind a 2010 armed robbery in which a policewoman was killed. He had been serving a 25-year-sentence in jail since 2011. He'd already made headlines with another movie-like prison break in 2013, when he took wardens hostage and escaped in a car, but was arrested a month later.
Following the helicopter prison break in July, over 100 detectives have been tasked with tracking him down, while almost 3,000 policemen and gendarmes were mobilized in France right after it.
His two accomplices, posing as students, reportedly took a shocked flight instructor hostage. They made him fly to a prison and broke into a visiting room, where the convicted repeat offender was meeting his brother, with smoke bombs and angle grinders. Then they flew away together in a helicopter, while the unarmed wardens activated the alarm. The plot, which took just 10 minutes to fulfill, raised debates in France over prison security.
However, his criminal story became infamous much earlier, in the 1990s, when he led a gang and robbed banks. Pursued by the police, he hid in Switzerland and Israel, where he disguised himself as an Orthodox Jew and even learned Hebrew for it, according to his autobiography, before being arrested in 1998. Later he co-wrote two books about his criminal path, and was nicknamed “Author” for his literary endeavors. He made several TV appearances and achieved cult status in the blighted immigrant suburbs of Paris where he came from, according to the AFP.
His sources of inspiration have also been revealed to the public: in 2009 Faid told director Michael Mann, who created the 1995 movie “Heat” starring Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, “You were my technical adviser.”