Faulty night vision camera let Heineken kidnappers escape with €30 ransom money: fmr Justice Min.

. Cor van Hout (left) and Willem Holleeder (right) in the Palace of Justice in Amsterdam, 1987 (Source: Wikimedia/Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo)

A defect on a rented night-vision camera was the reason that Freddy Heineken's kidnappers got away with 30 million euros the night the ransom was dropped, former Justice Minister Frits Krothals Altes reveals in his new book Zeven politieke levens. The kidnappers were on the run for two years before the police finally caught up to them, AD reports.

Beer magnate Freddy Heineken and his driver Ab Doderer were kidnapped on November 9th, 1983 by Cor van Hout, Willem Holleeder, Frans Meijer and Jan Boellaard. They demanded 30 million euros in ransom. The ransom drop was made during the early morning hours of November 29th. Heineken and Doderer were found two days later.

The Dutch police planned to keep track of the kidnappers during the ransom drop using an ultraviolet camera on a helicopter. Ultraviolet cameras were still pretty new technology at the time, and the Netherlands didn't have one yet. "The British police had one and were willing to rent it out for one night. That was an expensive kindness at 100 thousand guilders, now about 45 thousand euros", according to Krothals Altes. 

On the night of the ransom drop the night vision camera was attached to a police helicopter and the helicopter followed the car sent to drop off the ransom - on a viaduct without on- or off-ramps the bags of money were dropped through a drainage gutter to the kidnappers' pickup point. 

Up until this point, all went well. "The gyroscope with which the camera was attached to the helicopter came loose and was no longer controllable", according to the old Minister. "The camera stared out at the night landscape", while the kidnappers took off with the ransom unchecked. You can hear the helicopter crew swearing at the camera on the audio recordings, Krothals Altes writes.

The four kidnappers disappeared for two years before finally running into the police. Only some of the money was ever recovered. 

Freddy Heineken and Ab Doderer on December 2nd, 1983
Freddy Heineken and Ab Doderer on December 2nd, 1983. Photo: Rob C. Croes / Anefo / Wikimedia Commons