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Italian police detain British woman who removed Pompeii mosaic tiles

The ancient site has a recurring problem with light-fingered visitors

Joanna Whitehead
Monday 08 April 2019 17:17 BST
Ancient mosaics at Pompeii
Ancient mosaics at Pompeii (istock)

A British woman has been detained by Italian police after allegedly removing Roman tiles from a mosaic at Pompeii.

The young woman was reportedly witnessed crossing a guard rail around the mosaic and using a tool to dislodge tiles from a floor mosaic in the world-famous House of Anchor site.

She is believed to have been visiting the site with her father and sister.

Staff called the police, who escorted her from the site.

The site’s manager estimated that €3,000 (£2,600) worth of damage had been done.

The ancient site is named after the anchor portrayed in the floor mosaic, which symbolises the peace and safety offered to the home’s inhabitants.

The World Heritage Site has struggled with light-fingered visitors who steal ancient artefacts.

Last year, two French tourists were caught with a backpack containing 13 ancient ceramic fragments and a slab of Roman marble.

Pierre Luc Giglio, 52, from Montpellier, was given a suspended sentence of four months and ordered to pay a €200 fine, according to Italian media.

Some thieves are repentant however. In 2014, a Canadian tourist reportedly returned a relic she had stolen from Pompeii’s amphitheatre whilst honeymooning 50 years earlier.

Others have returned their swag claiming that the artefacts are "cursed".

An exhibition displaying the returned items and accompanying letters has recently been established at the historic site to tell the story behind the pilfered relics – and hopefully discourage potential thieves.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, Pompeii is also one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. This ancient city was decimated in 79 AD, when Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the city under ash.

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