Italian cemetery worker ‘stole gold teeth from corpse’

A cemetery worker has been charged for allegedly stealing gold teeth from a body dug up at a graveyard in a town near Siena.

Italian cemetery worker 'stole gold teeth from corpse'
The man allegedly stole the gold teeth at a cemetery near Siena. Photo: Martin KalfatovicFlickr

The 50-year-old man, who works for a graveyard contractor, allegedly stole the teeth from the body during exhumation works on Friday at Uopini cemetery, in the Tuscan town of Monteriggioni, Corriere di Siena reported.

But on the day of the alleged theft, police were out on force, carrying out random checks across the town. As the man drove home from work, accompanied by colleague, traffic police stopped the car and asked to see both passengers’ documents.

The driver, originally from Turin, was known to police, having been previously convicted of crimes related to property and drugs, the newspaper said.

After further checks were carried out, the teeth were found wrapped in a handkerchief in man's trousers pocket. He tried to justify himself by saying he found them on the ground.

Trade in gold teeth can be a lucrative business – in 2010, a gravedigger in Spain made over €2,000 by selling 17 teeth he took from a bone depository in Barcelona.

Two years later in France, three grave-diggers were arrested after dozens of bodies were dug up and gold teeth and jewellery stolen from them.

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British tourist arrested for stealing Pompeii mosaic tiles

Italian police have detained a British woman suspected of removing ancient Roman tiles from a mosaic at Pompeii.

British tourist arrested for stealing Pompeii mosaic tiles
Visitors at Pompeii, a World Heritage Site and one of Italy's most popular attractions. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

The 21-year-old, who was visiting the famous archaeological site with her father and sister, had crossed a protective railing and was seen using a tool to dislodge the mosaic tiles – called tesserae – from the floor mosaic in the House of the Anchor.

Staff called local caribinieri police, who detained the woman as she tried to leave the area.

The incident caused some €3,000 worth of damage, the site’s manager estimated.

Pompeii has long struggled with unscrupulous visitors who pocket relics as holiday souvenirs, or even to sell for a profit.

Last year a French tourist was fined and given a suspended prison sentence after he tried to leave Pompeii with a backpack stuffed full of ancient artefacts.

Sometimes however, the thieves try to make amends. In 2014, a Canadian tourist returned an artefact she had stolen from Pompeii's amphitheatre during her honeymoon – 50 years earlier.

And several thieves have sent back their loot claiming the relics are 'cursed'.

An exhibition of the returned artefacts and accompanying letters of apology has recently been set up at the site in the hopes of deterring would-be thieves.