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Remorseful thief returns 200 stolen ancient coins to Italian museum

More than 200 ancient coins were returned on Thursday to the Paestum museum in southern Italy by a priest who was told about the theft in confession.

Remorseful thief returns 200 stolen ancient coins to Italian museum
Paestum is one of Italy's lesser-known ancient treasures. Photo: Guillaume Baptiste/AFP

The unknown penitent, presumed to be the thief himself, asked the priest to return the loot to the Paestum archaeological park near Naples.

He insisted the coins had to be given personally to the site's director Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the park said in a statement.

“It's the latest restitution by someone who feels remorseful” for stealing things, the statement added.

READ ALSO: British tourist arrested for stealing Pompeii mosaic tiles

Of the 208 coins returned, seven were fakes but most of the others date from as early as the third century BC, running up to the end of the 4th century AD.

Paestum, originally a Greek colony that was later conquered by the Romans, boasts three of the best preserved Greek temples in the world.

It is not unheard of for people to return artefacts stolen from Italian archaeological sites, sometimes after decades.

The former manager of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city, said that in recent years the site has received around a hundred packages returning stolen relics, which are often accompanied by letters explaining that the items have brought the thieves nothing but bad luck.

“They write that the stolen pieces have brought them nothing but trouble,” former archaeological superintendent Massimo Osanna.Osanna said.
 
“They say they can trace back all their family troubles to their theft at Pompeii.”

Remorseful tourists also sometimes return sand stolen from the pristine, protected beaches of Sardinia.

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ROME

‘Bank robber’ rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

Four people were arrested in Rome after a suspected would-be bank robber was rescued from a tunnel under a road, police said on Friday.

'Bank robber' rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed on Thursday evening and taken to hospital.

“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.

The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.

“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, with reports noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15th long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome is left empty.

“The hole gang,” headlined newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”

Other reports referred to the suspected burglar as l’uomo-talpa, or ‘mole man’.

An AFP reporter at the scene on Thursday saw the man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers.

The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.

“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.

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