Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Stealing from the Trevi ...

(Trevi Fountain, photographed by yours truly, March 2002)

From Yahoo news (link sent by a dedicated reader):
ROME (Reuters) - Italian police arrested four street cleaners Monday as they tried to pocket hundreds of euros scooped from Rome's famed Fountain of Trevi.

Each day, thousands of tourists stand with their backs to the Renaissance masterpiece and throw coins over their shoulders into its shallow basin in a tradition which is supposed to ensure they return to Rome.

The money, which adds up to several hundred euros a day or more, is regularly swept out by a cleaning firm with half of the proceeds handed over to Roman Catholic charity Caritas.

However, Caritas workers had noted a sharp decline in recent takings and alerted the police, who caught the quartet of cleaners Monday trying to walk off with some 1,200 euros.

A police official estimated they might have stolen as much as 110,000 euros in recent weeks before being stopped.

The quartet were not the first to try to cash in on the Trevi Fountain. In 2002 police arrested a homeless man, dubbed d'Artagnan, who made up to 12,000 euros a month with his pre-dawn raids on the tourist attraction.

(Dedicated reader caught a coin stealer at the Trevi in flagrante, early 2004)

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