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.