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VIDEO: Rome police bust criminal gang who targeted central hotels

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VIDEO: Rome police bust criminal gang who targeted central hotels
File photo showing buildings in Rome's historic centre. Photo: Cristian Bortes/Flickr
11:22 CEST+02:00
Rome's police force on Sunday announced that it had dismantled a gang of thieves who targeted tourists in hotels across the city's historical centre.

"The gang stole bags and valuable objects from hotel guests - and the modus operandi was always the same," police said in a statement.

"A 'right-hand man' distracted the victim, while the boss, with extreme skill, stole the bag," they explained.

The gang's members had all been previously known to police, and the head - a 46-year-old identified by police only by his initials - had already faced charged for stealing from tourists.

A police search of the man's home uncovered numerous stolen objects, including backpacks, suitcases, mobile phones, and watches.

Police also found another member of the gang, a 56-year-old, hiding in the apartment's bathroom.

The two men face charges of theft, while a woman connected with the gang has been charged with receiving stolen goods.

The investigation into the gang was opened in February, after a tourist reported having their bag stolen from a reception area in a central hotel. 

Police then spotted a pattern in thefts reported by visitors to the Italian capital, and studied CCTV footage from several hotels affected by such incidents, which showed the thefts in action.

The video below shows the gang at work.

Several foreign ministries warn tourists travelling to Rome about high levels of bag-snatching and pickpocketing in the Italian capital. 

The American, British, German, French and Belgian foreign offices have all issued such warnings, with the American Department of State singling out Rome's Termini station and bars and cafes near Rome’s Colosseum, Colle Oppio, Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona as hotspots for petty crime.

But are the warnings fair? 2016 crime figures from Istat revealed Milan to be the top city for theft, with the highest number of crimes per thousand residents. Rome came sixth in the ranking, following Bologna, Florence, Turin, and Catania.

And a report by Il Sole 24 Ore later in the year, based on Interior Ministry figures, showed a nationwide decline in pick-pocketing by 3.5 percent from the previous year. Again, the north of Italy emerged as the most afflicted by light-fingered thieves, with Rimini, Bologna, and Milan reporting the most pick-pocketing incidents.

READ ALSO: Revealed: The typical scams used by pickpocketing gangs

Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Picture: FCO

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