Rome airport cleaners in pilfered artworks racket

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Italian police with some of the recovered paintings. Photo: Polizia di Stato
17:22 CET+01:00
Police have dismantled an elaborate network of thieves at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, including cleaners, ground crew and passenger assistants, who were behind the theft of valuable paintings from passengers in transit.

Two airport workers are so far facing charges for the stolen works of art in a scam which also saw the theft of works by the Italian painters Ugo Attardi and Renato Guttoso, both worth over €50,000 and belonging to a Rome gallery, police said in a statement on Tuesday.

The network concocted a scam through which they were able to steal the paintings from passengers in transit by pretending to bring the works to oversized baggage points. By law, oversized paintings must be placed at the collection points, police said.

Instead, the thieves would deposit the works in “safe places” before selling them on the black market.

“Dressed in the uniforms they wear to carry out their usual airport activities, they could easily convince people of the authenticity of their services in order to trick them,” police said in the statement.

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Police managed to recover some of the loot, found in the possession of airport cleaners, and are now trying to track down the rightful owners.

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