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Bank Robber Suspect Begs Police To Rescue Him From Tunnel He Built to Rob Banks

Criminal masterminds, they are not.

It takes a special level of criminal incompetence to be so bad you end up calling the police to rescue you, but that's exactly what happened to a gang of would-be bank robbers in Italy, according to police. The four-man band were attempting to dig a tunnel to rob two nearby banks when things went very badly wrong. Here's what happened to the Ocean's 11-wannabes.

The Perfect Crime?


Police say the four robbers started excavating the tunnel from an abandoned shop near the Vatican in Rome, with the idea that they could tunnel under and into two nearby banks—one of which is a branch of the world's oldest bank, the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, founded in 1472. "For about a week I heard the sounds of a pneumatic drill coming from the empty shop during the evenings. I thought they were just renovating it. There was light coming from behind the shutters. Now I understand what was going on," said Alessandro Quaranta, who runs a wine bar close to where the gang started digging.

Disaster Strikes


The operation hit a major snag when a portion of the road collapsed, trapping one of the hapless gang 20ft under the ground. His panicked co-conspirators had no choice but to call authorities for help. "Help, I beg you to get me out of here," the man reportedly told the rescue team. "I can't hold out much longer."

Eight Hours Later…


A huge rescue operation was launched to rescue the trapped robber, with crowds gathering to watch in Via Innocenzo XI. It took eight hours for over 30 firefighters and other rescuers to get the man out, using large diggers and, when necessary, shovels and bare hands. "For hours he was imploring us to save him. It's a miracle that he's alive," a rescuer told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. "It was a complex operation. The tunnel probably collapsed because of the sandy soil and perhaps because of all the rain we have had in the last few days."

Free At Last


The rescue operation was successful, and the robber didn't end up with serious injuries. As soon as he was put on a stretcher with a neck brace on, he asked for water—and a cigarette (that's one way to deal with the stress of being trapped underground for eight hours). He was then taken to hospital where his condition was considered not life-threatening.

Attempted Escape

Cars of the Carabinieri service and the police service on St. Peter's Square in front of St. Peter's Cathedral in the Vatican.

The other three robbers were caught attempting to escape the scene—according to reports, all four members of the outfit had previous convictions for theft and armed robbery, so clearly this stunt was nothing out of character. "Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage to public property," a police spokesman told AFP. "We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories."

"We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So, we had no suspicion and we did not hear noises either," says Michele, another resident who lives in the same building. Let's hope this debacle means the gang hang up their criminal hats for good!

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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