The 49-year-old Sicilian had been serving a two-year sentence under house arrest for illegally carrying a weapon in public when he escaped in 2012, fleeing the country before returning to hide out near Rome, police said on Monday.
The man, who had previous convictions for robbery and narcotics, "perhaps thought the police had forgotten about him, that they were tired of hunting a man who only had one year left to serve," a police statement said.
"Unfortunately for him, that was not the case," police said.
Detectives had been keeping a close eye on the man's elderly mother, his ex-partner and his young daughter, all of whom lived near the capital.
Just two months ago officers searched the mother's house only to discover "an open window and a man's abandoned clothes and socks".
On Friday they hit gold: a raid on the ex-partner's home in Ostia, a seaside town near Rome, turned up one fugitive, hiding in his daughter's wardrobe.
Hiding in plain sight
It's not unusual for Italian police to discover fugitives in surprising places. In 2016, a mafia boss known as 'the mummy' was tracked down in a concealed room in the house he had lived in his whole life, and a year earlier, another fugitive was found living in a hidden attic of his Rome home in 2013.
In other cases meanwhile, police just had to follow their noses.
One suspected member of the Camorra, Pasquale Brunese, was tracked down in a Spanish pizzeria last November, where he had been working as a waiter. And in May of this year, pizza led police to a fugitive who had made a name for himself as a star pizza-chef in a Dutch seaside town during his 15 years on the run.
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Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP