Thursday, July 16, 2009

Italian Interpretations of Robbery

While rock climbing at an outdoor natural gym in Frassené (Agordo) on Saturday, our car was broken into. Someone ripped open the lock and stole a wallet they found inside the car. The problem for us and boon for them was that they were able to glean lots of cash on that particular day, while the wallet happened to be full of Euro-backs (this means "greenbacks" but for Euro)AND an ATM/credit card all-in-one. They somehow got the PIN number and were able to withdraw ridulous amounts of money inside of an hour, our guess as to the time it took to rob us, get down to the valley and start the cash-pull.

Of course, we are absolutely horrified about losing our hard-earned money. That parking lot was in located in one of the smallest mountain towns we know about and never has much car traffic. The obviously professional job of the operation, and its location, caught us off-guard.

The real surprise was the police (carabinieri) reaction and their assumptions which were offered to us when we reported the robbery. It was a quick: "Romanians did it. Those foreigners come from the Eastern European countries and raid our country because they know they can get away with it." This statement was supposed to make us feel that we had proof about how horrible those foreigners are who come to Italy. After all, the media is always talking badly about them. But remember, I am a foreigner, too, and extra-communitaria like them! Well to be precise, I am still one while Romanians' status has recently changed, since the country entered the European Union.

In fact, their testimony made us even more angry, not about the foreigners, but about Italy. Some foreigners come here because they know that neither the police nor the justice system works very well, so yes, they can rob Italians and run off easily with the money.

The police didn't realize that they were criticizing themselves.


  1. Ugh. Thanks for this post. While I'm glad to know robberies occur all over Italy, not just in Naples, your experience mirrors some of the things I've seen too. First -- denied yet obvious (to us, at least) ethnocentrism among Italians. Second -- here in Naples the latest are that people steal automobiles and then call the owners asking for a ransom in order for the car to be returned.

    I send my true sympathy for such an unfortunate experience in this wonderful country. Thanks for your posts on ROCK CLIMBING! Now I want to go up north!


  2. How awful for you. It is a pity that robbery as a crime is simply not taken seriously here - it just seems to be accepted (by everyone) as part of normal life. 5 years ago the perps were always the Albanians, now they're the Roumanians... and of course they're always and ever the zingari - who will be next? Certainly not an Italian!

  3. I find it ironic that in this time of severe "safety alert" including "ronde" and the heavy blame of foreigners for crime, Italy is registering a drop in real crime levels, according to recent police figures.

    When it was Italians doing the job of criminal, the media didn't care so much. Now the media has its spotlight on the situation because the faces look different and the fear is rising among the Italian public because of that. It's sad. Italy just needs to get its system running more smoothly.

    I personally had to wait 5 years to see a crime come to trial here, one that involved physical injury. That's just too long!

    Thank you for your supportive words about our predicament.

  4. As for the stories of car-theft in Naples, my teenage students here in PD have told me about similar stories with cell phones here. The theives rob the mobile phone when they are having drinks with friends in a piazza and when the person goes after the culprit, he proposed to make a deal and asks for Euro 30-50 to give the phone back. The kids are so rich here, they pay!