The terrified rich of Northern Italy are rushing to hire private bodyguards and to buy guns, fierce dogs and pocket tear-gas cannisters as the biggest kidnapping wave in Italian history continues unabated.
GV PAN Street scene TO Milan residentian area (3 shots)
SV Industrialist with guard
SV Gurad escorting schoolboy on street
SV Guards collect money from shops in armoured van (2 shots)
SV Guards outside banks (2 shots)
SV Businssaman with escort leaving bank (2 shots)
"It was a foreseeable phenomenon," says criminologist Benigno di Tullio.
"With the banks now guarded by police under orders to shoot, the old-style big robbery is becoming increasingly difficult. Kidnapping is less risky, and the take is enormous".
Initials BB/1817 PS/JB/BB/1829
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Background: The terrified rich of Northern Italy are rushing to hire private bodyguards and to buy guns, fierce dogs and pocket tear-gas cannisters as the biggest kidnapping wave in Italian history continues unabated.
The kidnappings, concentrated in the wealthy industrial north -- and especially around Milan -- are so highly organised -- and lucrative -- that police are convinced they are the work of the Mafia. A large part of this notorious criminal society, police say, has been literally transplanted from its home base in Sicily to Northern Italy to take full advantage of the kidnapping potential there.
Dubbed "Kidnaps Anonymous", the burgeoning Mafia enterprise also has been called Italy's largest current growth industry. So far, it is believed to have collected thirty-thousand-million lire (21 million sterling), and in one recent kidnapping alone the ransom paid for the 22-year-old son of a Brescia industrialist was said to be at least five-thousand-million lire (three and a half million sterling) -- the single largest kidnapping profit on record. More than 40 persons are known to have been kidnapped this-year alone.
There has been widnespread public outcry against the wave of abductions, and Pope Paul recently went so far as to pronounce ransom money as damned. Virtually the whole strength of Criminapol, the organisation that co-ordinates police operations throughout Italy, has been moved to Milan from Rome, bolstering the northern city's own police force with 550 specially chosen officers. The country's police chief, Efisio Zanda Loi, has called for much stiffer penalties for kidnappers and a reduction in the granting of bail to suspects.
Authorities attribute the runaway spread of kidnappings to mainland Italy from Sicily and Sardinia -- where it is a time-honoured source of income -- to a rethink on the part of the criminals..