Sicilian fugitive found in wardrobe – after giving himself away with visit to his mum

An Italian fugitive who spent five years on the run has been caught hiding in a wardrobe after giving himself away to police by visiting his elderly mum.

Sicilian fugitive found in wardrobe - after giving himself away with visit to his mum
File photo: Belchonock/Depositphotos

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


New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”


Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”