Tunnelling thieves caught just yards from jewellers
A gang spent a month painstakingly digging a 1,000-yard tunnel with the aim of robbing a cluster of Italian jewellers, only to be caught feet from their target.
The four members were arrested after two were spotted popping out of a manhole in Acireale, a coastal town at the foot of Mount Etna in Sicily.
They had used picks and shovels to dig the narrow tunnel.
The tunnel ran from near the town's Piazza San Sebastiano, where it was reached through the manhole, to Via Davi, in the picturesque historic centre of Acireale, a street well known for its jewellers.
Police said the thieves were "just a few metres" from their target when they were discovered and were poised to break through the floor of a jeweller's.
Suspicions had been aroused when two members of the gang were seen emerging from a manhole clutching two-way radios which they were using to communicate with each other.
Detectives sent in mountain rescue and caving experts to explore the subterranean passage. They found chisels, hammers and other tools, as well as a small generator to power the lights. The equipment was taken as evidence and handed over to investigators in the nearby city of Catania.
The men were named as Mario Catalano (43), Mario Lanzarotti (48), Rosario Albicocco (22), and Salvatore Grasso (38).
Aside from enterprising thieves, tunnels are also favoured in Italy by Mafia gangsters on the run, who use them as a ready means of escape should the police raid their hideouts. (© Daily Telegraph, London)