Bank robbers ‘disguised themselves as police’

Three men have been arrested in Rome charged with systematically robbing banks while disguised as police officers over a two-year period.

Bank robbers 'disguised themselves as police'
The men allegedly disguised themselves with uniforms from Italy's Financial Guard to rob banks like uniforms pictured. File photo: Wikicommons

Giuseppe Pecchi, 42, Giovanni Liscio, 45, and 57-year-old Roberto Burdieri allegedly used wigs, municipal police uniforms and Financial Guard uniforms to disguise themselves during at least four robberies in the capital over a period of two years.

Armed with guns, the trio allegedly took members of staff and customers hostage for over an hour at a time – giving them just enough time to gain access to the safe, Italian daily Il Messaggero reported on Tuesday.

They would then gag and tie up their hostages before making their escape with the loot.

The charges include a bank robbery at a branch of the Banca Popolare in June 2013, where they allegedly made off with €80,000 and the robbery of €67,000 from a branch of the Banca delle Marche in August 2013.

They also face charges for robberies at two branches of the Banca Carige in July 2013 and October 2013, where they stole a loot of €52,000 and €35,000, respectively.

However, the number of robberies is expected to increase as the investigation continues.

Through the use of wiretapping investigators were able to track down a garage in the southern outskirts of Rome where they found several pistols, a sawed-off shotgun and the police uniforms allegedly used by the men.

This isn’t the first report of unusual bank robberies to hit Italian headlines in recent months.

In March, a man in the Lazio town of Velletri used a Bic biro pen to rob five banks.

The Rome bank robber, named only by his initials, A.M, reportedly held the pen towards the neck of cashiers, who, believing the weapon was a pen knife, panicked and promptly handed over "wads of cash".

He was snared only when savvy staff at his sixth target realized the harmless 'weapon' was not a knife.

Earlier that month a woman, believed to be in her seventies, robbed a bank near Florence with what is understood to have been a toy gun on Monday morning.  

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Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.