Bankrobbing, kidnapping, prison escapes and...giving money to the poor? It sounds like a mismatch but the people of Greece are embracing a violent criminal.
In popular folklore, Robin Hood is an outlaw, a thief and a rebel celebrated for "stealing from the rich to give to the poor". In real life, Greek outlaw Vassilis Paleokostas has earned that nickname.
Paleokostas has dodged the law for decades. He's stolen millions from state-owned banks, kidnapped industrialists and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to the needy. When he was caught and sentenced to 25 years for kidnapping and robbery, he made headlines for escaping from jail by helicopter - twice.
Hated by the authorities, he's called a violent terrorist.
Once again Paleokostas has made headlines, this time for a retrospective of his life. An in depth feature article has been published by the BBC, researched and written by Los Angeles-based British journalist Jeff Maysh. "The Uncatchable" takes a detailed look at the man dubbed Greece’s Robin Hood.
Born in 1966, Paleokostas grew up in the mountains of central Greece. For two years, he worked on the production line at a cheese factory. He experienced the unrest that came when the Greek economy exploded. A side effect was the rich getting richer. One afternoon, he walked out of the factory never to return.
Reports say that Vassilis became hooked on action movies, staying up all night to watch films starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood and other hero superstars.
The modern day Robin Hood remains missing after his last escape and has earned new nicknames. The press have started calling him The Phantom, locals call him King of the Mountains. Finding him to return to prison is proving to be very difficult.
“Wigs and makeup found in one hideout suggest Vassilis could even transform himself into a woman, at a pinch,” the BBC story reports. Paleokostas may have even had plastic surgery to escape the law.