Cookie Heist Causes Scare on Airport Runway in Cyprus

NICOSIA, -- A man who stole two trays of cookies from a bakery in the Cypriot coastal town of Larnaca caused a scare at the nearby airport when he drove onto the runway, forcing aircraft to slam on their brakes, police said Thursday.

Investigators said the saga began when George Metalaris, 29, walked out of a Larnaca bakery Wednesday evening with 40 Cypriot pounds (70 euros, 87 dollars) worth of assorted cookies without paying and drove off.

The Greek Albanian, a truckdriver living in Cyprus, was spotted 20 minutes later by horrified air traffic controllers as he weaved among parked aircraft at the seaside airport. His seven-year-old nephew was in the car with him.

The car was eventually intercepted on the parking apron after driving around the tarmac for around 20 minutes.

Authorities have ordered an enquiry into how Metalaris evaded police at what is supposed to be one of the most secure places on the island because of anti-terrorist measures in place there.

CommUnications Minister Haris Thrassou said it was a "serious but isolated incident" and "blame would be apportioned where it is due".

"Lessons learned from the findings of the investigation will be put into practice ... There's also a general issue of who's in charge of security at the airports."

Metalaris was expected to be arraigned on charges of illegal entry into a prohibited area and illegal entry causing danger to aircraft and, presumably, petty theft.

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