How To Steal The Space Shuttle: A Step-By-Step Guide
Thing is, I'd be more worried about Carman Sandiego. She managed to steal the Mekong River. I don't think a space shuttle is much of a problem for her and V.I.L.E.
Much simpler plan:
The California Science Center is a public-private partnership. As a department of the State of California, the California Science Center is administered by a nine-member board of directors appointed by the Governor. The not-for-profit California Science Center Foundation provides support for Science Center exhibits and programs.
All that you need to do, therefore, is (1) Win a few key administrative positions and a few key political appointee positions around this California Science Center organization; (2) Manage the science center into financial crisis; (3) Propose for the first time the brilliant idea of raising money by touring the shuttle globally -- a 3 year tour before it returns to home base ; (4) A front for the evil genius, acting as a benevolent billionaire, will contribute a customized ship to carry the shuttle to the Japan-limb of the tour. (5) mid-Pacific transfer the shuttle to another craft and steal it away to the hidden lair; the crew of the legitimate shuttle-transport-ship, held at gunpoint, are fed some bs story so that they think they are doing the right thing handing the shuttle over to the "pirates". (6) insiders on the transport ship transfer to the fake pirate ship, leaving the naive crew behind (sans radio); (7) put some distance between the "pirate" ship and the legit ship then sink the legit ship.
I mean, how do you think we got it in the first place?
Anyway, the key thing is to get people to voluntarily put it at sea, after which, the rest is easy and (relatively to the problem) inexpensive.
Fifty years ago the ocean was big and surveillance free. Today it's smaller (in the sense that it takes less time to cross it if you're a sovereign entity in a hurry) and there are not only military surveillance satellites there are competing commercial services vying to offer the best service in satellite ship tracking. So your cargo vessel big enough and sufficiently well-equipped to transfer the Space Shuttle from another cargo ship has to somehow avoid being spotted making a rendezvous in the middle of the ocean, or otherwise being at sea bought you nothing but trouble.
I am fully in favor of Swiss agents steeling the space shuttle.
However, it is a terrible plan. It needs more boobies and/or explosions.
Actually, by the time you'd invested in all that gear, you could probably just buy the shuttle. I'm sure for that price you could find some greedy agency that'd cut you a deal. The science museum would take the Buran instead; it's a more unique exhibit anyway.
Personally, I'd rather have the Buran -- it's just a pity the only fully functional one was destroyed.