Thieves tunnel into Bulgari store from Rome sewers and steal £420,000 worth of jewels

Burglars drilled into the basement of a jewellery store in Rome and stole gems worth half-a-million euros before escaping

Alexander Butler
Tuesday 11 June 2024 12:42
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The burglars blocked a door to the store that took four minutes to break down
The burglars blocked a door to the store that took four minutes to break down (EPA)

A gang of thieves stole at least €500,000 (£421,000) worth of jewellery and watches from a Bulgari shop in Rome before disappearing into the city’s sewers with police in pursuit.

The gang struck at about midnight on Saturday, climbing through a hole they dug in the floor of the Bulgari store on Rome’s Via Condotti, which is lined by high-end designer shops.

The three masked robbers were caught on CCTV and triggered the alarm. Police arrived seven minutes after the alarm was sounded, but took four minutes to break through the door that had been barricaded by the gang.

But the raiders managed to gather their haul of valuables and disappear back down the hole into Rome’s sewer system within those 11 minutes, according to Italian media.

Police officers stand outside the Bulgari store in via Condotti, Rome
Police officers stand outside the Bulgari store in via Condotti, Rome (EPA)

“While we were opening the door, we could hear them shouting ‘Let’s go, let’s go’,” one investigator told the newspaper La Repubblica.

Rome’s sewage system dates back to the Roman era, with the complex network of tunnels compared to an underground metro system.

“The centre of Rome is criss-crossed by sewer tunnels that date back to the Roman era and are still in use,” Marco Placidi, head of Sotterranei di Roma, a group that explores Rome’s underground archaeology, told The Times.

“They are large enough to walk in and, if it’s not raining, there is no more than 10cm of water in them. They are not totally mapped so it is hard to know where the robbers went,” Mr Placidi added.

There was speculation that they had kept the Bulgari store under surveillance for some time and may well have gone into the shop, posing as customers, to better understand its layout and security systems.

Police officers could hear the raiders shouting ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!’ before they disappeared into Rome’s ancient sewer system
Police officers could hear the raiders shouting ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!’ before they disappeared into Rome’s ancient sewer system (EPA)

In August 2022, a similar tunnelling technique was used by a gang of thieves to try to raid a bank near the Vatican - but it failed after one robber became stuck.

On that occasion, the thieves dug a tunnel from an abandoned shop, hoping to access a bank branch. One of them, dubbed “the mole man” by the Italian press, became stuck for more than eight hours when a section of the tunnel collapsed.

He was eventually extricated alive with the help of a large mechanical digger. The other members of the gang tried to flee the area but were caught by police.

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