US Tourists Steal Pompeii Artifact

Authorities at Rome's Fiumicino airport seized the 65-pound antiquity.

pompeii-theft-tourists
The House of the Faun at Pompeii.
Photo: Porsche997SBS/Wikimedia Commons.

A pair of American tourists were pinched by Italian police when Fiumicino airport authorities in Rome discovered a stolen Pompeii relic in their luggage, reports the Local. The remarkably ill-advised crime rivals our favorite Italian art news story of the year, “Italian Student Smashes Sculpture While Taking Selfie” in its general stupidity.

The massive artifact, which was removed from a building at the historic site, weighed more than 65 pounds, but that wasn’t about to stop the thieves from smuggling it on board an aircraft and back to the States. Luckily, airport security noticed the piece in the tourists’ rental car, and realized something was amiss.

The couple is expected to face charges of appropriation of state heritage, according to Il Mattino. On its website, the US Embassy, which has yet to comment on the case, does warn travelers that “while you are traveling in Italy, you are subject to its laws.”

The Local also provides a disturbing and hilarious roundup of other foiled stunts and questionable behavior from Italy’s tourists, including an American girl caught peeing in public in Florence, and an American who broke the finger off a Florentine Renaissance statue—not to mention the attempted robbery of a brick from Rome’s Colosseum by a Canadian and an alleged Franco-Italian orgy at Pompeii.

Needless to say, Pompeii has enough issues with conservation funding and damage caused by the weather (see “Can Italy Save Pompeii? Emergency Funding for Damaged Archaeological Site May Not Be Enough“) without greedy and horny tourists adding to its woes (see “Fresco of Artemis Stolen from Pompeii“). Hopefully, the artifact will be returned to the famed archaeological site near Naples without further incident.


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