Italian police seize 20m ‘deadly’ loom bands

Police in Milan have seized 20 million loom bands, a fashion accessory popular among children, over fears that they could contain deadly chemicals.

Italian police seize 20m 'deadly' loom bands
The colourful elastic bands, which are plaited together to make bracelets, are popular among children. Loom bands photo: Shutterstock

The bands, which are worth around €3 million, were confiscated from five warehouses in the Chinatown area of the northern city, Rai News reported on Thursday.

Police have warned that the elastic bands could contain high levels of carcinogens.

The bands, which are plaited together and decorated with charms to make bracelets, did not have a CE safety mark, which ensures that the product meets the requirements set by EU law.

Three people of Chinese nationality have been reported to police and fined €40,000.

Police have also informed the Italian Customs Office and the Internal Revenue Service of the illegal activity.

It’s the second seizure of this kind in Europe, after a similar incident in England, according to Rai News.

“It is clear that we are facing an organized supply chain that we are happy to have broken," local Safety Councillor Marco Granelli was quoted as saying.

Alarm bells were first raised about the dangers of the bands by a British laboratory tasked with testing the safety of jewellery.

In August the Birmingham Assay Office, a company which tests the safety of toys, issued a warning that the charms attached to the bands contained deadly levels of phthalates, which is classed as possibly carcinogenic.

While the legal limit for the chemical is 0.1 percent, some of the charms were found to contain a level of more than 50 percent.    

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Robbers use Molotov cocktails in jewellery raid

A group of armed and masked robbers looted a jewellery shop in broad daylight in Milan's luxury shopping quarter on Tuesday and threw Molotov cocktails in the street, wounding two people in their escape.

Robbers use Molotov cocktails in jewellery raid
File photo of a Molotov cocktail (left): Ohto Kokko/Wikicommons. Photo of a Franck Muller watch: nicolasputz/Flickr

Wielding baseball bats and pickaxes, between six and ten men burst into the Franck Muller shop on the northern Italian city's famous Via della Spiga and smashed the glass cabinets, grabbing watches and jewellery before fleeing on foot, Italian media reported.

The shop's manager began chasing after the men, who were dressed in black and were wearing ski masks which covered their faces, but was thwarted when they threw three Molotov cocktails behind them, sparking panic and wounding two other shopkeepers on the street.

"I saw a hooded man running, he shouted 'Molotov' and then there was an enormous bang," one witness told La Repubblica, while another said: "it was crazier than a film."

A fourth unexploded cocktail was found nearby.

A 39-year-old security guard hit in the chest with a bat by one of the robbers was taken to hospital, while another man was treated for light wounds at the scene, the reports said.

"All robberies that have taken place in the luxury fashion quarter have one thing in common: the culprits have always been uncovered and identified," Interior Minister Angelo Alfano said.

"We are confident that it will the case here too," he said.