Fear turned to disbelief on Monday afternoon at a hairdressing salon in the city of St Gallen, Switzerland, when a masked man stormed the building shouting ‘terrorist attack’. Trainee hairdresser Severine Tschirren was in the Coiffure X salon at the time and said 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, said 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, but hadn’t received an official complaint.
“I had to laugh when I heard the story for the first time,” a police spokesman said.
Tschirren added that 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 said 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 said.
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 realising it was no such thing.
He said 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,” he added.