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'Nun' on run puts the 'con' into Italian convents

Woman tricks religious orders for hospitality


Film fun: Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane star in the 1990 film 'Nuns on the Run'

Film fun: Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane star in the 1990 film 'Nuns on the Run'

Film fun: Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane star in the 1990 film 'Nuns on the Run'

An Italian woman who was on the run from the police posed as a nun to obtain free accommodation in convents around the country.

Her modus operandi was to call up a convent, pretend to be a mother superior, and ask if her "niece" could stay for a few days in the religious retreat.

She would then turn up, presenting herself as the niece and taking full advantage of the nuns' kindness and hospitality.

The ruse was so successful that the 47-year-old woman used it on multiple occasions, moving from convent to convent in the northern regions of Lombardy and Piedmont.

The unusual case has faint echoes of the 1990 British comedy 'Nuns on the Run', in which Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane played bank robbers who pretend to be nuns to hide from gangsters they have betrayed.

The film was subtitled 'Story of an Immaculate Deception', with the pair presenting themselves as Sister Inviolata and Sister Euphemia.

But instead of fleeing from vengeful criminals, as in the film, the woman was running away from a conviction for fraud and theft, for which she had been sentenced to two years and four months in prison by a court in Sicily.

The woman - who was identified by police only by her initials, RT - was caught when nuns at a convent in the town of Gallarate, north of Milan, became suspicious about her identity.

They told police that the "mother superior" who had called them asking for accommodation had a voice that was remarkably similar, if not identical, to the "niece" who turned up a few days later.

When they rang around convents in the region, they discovered the woman had peddled the same story several times before.

Often, she would filch bunches of keys belonging to the convents she stayed in.

The woman also raised suspicions because in her conversations with nuns there were several "contradictions regarding salient parts of her life", police said in a statement.

Officers were sent to the convent and arrested the woman earlier this week.

She is now under investigation for claiming a false identity, theft and making false declarations.