Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Flying Gizi, the Queen Mother of Thieves

This is not a joke. Repeat, this is not a joke.
Flying Gizi is a character that has been ruling the media for a while now in Hungary. Her actual name, obviously, is not Flying Gizi. It's Gizella Bodnár. The nickname Repülős Gizi (Flying Gizi or Gizi of the Airplanes) she earned through decades of hard work in the thievery business.

She has been known by the police for more than 50 years. She has been arrested more than 20 times, sentenced to 40 years in prison, and spent 17 of those behind bars. Last time she was arrested in 2011, at the ripe old age of 85, and she is still out and about.
Legend says they call her Flying Gizi because she found a great way of exploiting Hungary's domestic flight network in the middle of the 20th century. She would hop on a plane in the morning in Budapest, fly to a remote city, spend the day breaking into houses and stealing stuff, and the hop on the evening flight back home. Since the local police was almost always looking for local criminals, she avoided detection for quite some time.
She is also quite the cheeky old lady. There are many anecdotes about her getting caught and then getting out of the jam. One time she broke into a policeman's house, and when he walked in on her she claimed she was a teacher that wanted to talk to them about their children's grades, and just happened to find the door open. The policeman, after a friendly chat, escorted her out of his own home, oblivious to the many valuables she was hiding in her purse.
Another time, she gave an interview to a reporter who walked out with great journalist materials, but about $200 lighter...
Despite her obviously criminal activities, Flying Gizi is exactly the kind of character that would become the hero of folk ballads had she lived a hundred years ago. As of now, she is just a beloved returning face on the media. Seriously, who can be angry at an adorable grandma with a 50-year thieving career?
(The people she stole from, obviously...)

Flying Gizi made the news in many countries outside Hungary; she was featured in the Washington Post, and also in CBS news.

She claims that she has kleptomania, a psychological condition that compels her to steal things. Looking at her career, we are in no position to argue that statement. She also claims that she mostly did it for the excitement, and never stole more than about $2000's worth from anywhere.

In her autobiography, published in 2007, she called herself the Queen of Thieves. Amen to that.


  1. Hilarious! What a character, sweet grandma popping on a flight for a nice day trip, charming policemen and journalists, all the while stealing from them - nothing over $2000 of course. Can't believe there's no movie on her yet. I love this post.

  2. She must be incredibly talented to have kept up the game that long. Good for her for having a retirement hobby. :P

  3. Woah... Sounds like something from the movies :D