by René M. Du Terroil, ARCA Contributor
The Italian media reported last week finding jewels allegedly belonging to deceased Argentine former first lady Eva Peron. The jewelry is worth over US$9 million and was found in a hotel in Milan in Northern Italy. According to reports, local police located the jewels in a joint operation with Spanish police. Police sources report that the precious stones where recovered from a 2009 robbery to a jewelry store in Valencia carried out by a gipsy gang. One person has been detained so far.
A tiara, a gift from the Dutch king during the 1950’s, several rings and a pair o earrings were among the jewelry recovered by the Carabinieri police in a room of the luxurious Silver hotel in the outskirts of Milan. According to the police, seven Serb gypsies were responsible for the robbery. The jewelry was taken in December of 2009. One of the robbers was arrested in May of last year after the Spanish court extended the arrest warrant to all Europe.
The English-language press (copied in after the links to the story) inaccurately reported many of the facts.
The pieces were stolen from a Spanish jeweler in what is known as a "rip" where a jeweler is offered an exaggerated price for his merchandise with the proviso that he perform some type of under-the-table cash deal. This initial exchange goes through flawlessly, at considerable profit for the mark. Some time later the scammers approach the mark with a similar proposition, but for a larger amount of money (and thus a larger return for the mark). His confidence and greed inspired by the previous deal, the merchant agrees — only to have his money and goods taken, by sleight-of-hand or violence, at the point of exchange.
The Carabinieri and Spanish police had been working together for some time, and phone taps and Interpol were involved. Although 8 members of the gang were identified and arrest warrants issued, only one was apprehended in the Milan hotel. Several of the others were already arrested in Spain. The jewels were recovered when the suspect left his hotel room and he was arrested later. Apparently many of the Serbian - Gypsy/Romanian families engaged in this activity live in the area.