Friedrich Wilhelm Voigt lived a troubled life growing up in Tilsit, Prussia. By the age of 14, he already had been sentenced to 14 days in prison for theft which resulted in him getting expelled from school in 1863. Over the next three decades, he would spend a total of 25 years in prison for various crimes including an unsuccessful robbery of a cashiers office at a courthouse that resulted in a 15-year sentence.
He was released in February of 1906 and though he didn’t know it at the time, roughly eight months later he would pull off a heist that would etch his name into the history books forever. They even made a play about him called The Captain of Kopenick and is even referred to as a German “fairy tale”.