Capraia becomes the set to a series of mysterious thefts

The Island of Capraia is the setting of one of the most recent and mysterious theft investigations in Italy.

The island is part of the Tuscan Archipelago, just off of the West coast of Italy, and is home to 4.000 people during the tourist season.  The locals form a close-knit community, fit with its own fishing businesses, schools, and nightlife. Every islander knows his neighbour and his neighbour’s family.

It was an island where one could leave his house without feeling the need to lock his front door. Since a string of large-scale robberies has occurred throughout the Winter months, the innocence of every inhabitant has come into question.

The Wolf of Capraia

The robber, who Il Tirreno calls "The Wolf of Capraia who steals from friends," has taken thousands of euros, jewellery, and valuable goods from workers, business owners, and the deputy mayor. Once a peaceful oasis of Italy, Capraia is now in the middle of an all-too-real crime novel. Cold weather and the threat of Covid have left the island without tourism and only about 200 local inhabitants. All evidence suggests that the thief lives on the island, since he seems to have a good understanding of the geography and even of the interior of the targeted buildings.

A local suspect

A local suspect is a great threat because the islanders keep their money in cash; the last Capraian bank closed about a year ago and the island houses only one ATM. If one needs to visit a bank, he has to sail to the mainland Livorno. Inhabitants keep their savings in their homes and businesses, often in large sums.

The criminal has stolen not only cash, but entire locked safes. The most recent and jarring robbery took place at the tobacconist called "Il Cantuccio." It doubles as bar, where customers can have a coffee while reading the newspaper in the morning and a drink while playing cards in the evening. It is a cornerstone of the community.

The owner, Alessandro Santinelli lost his life savings when the suspect entered through the back door under the surveillance of a disabled camera and took 60,000-70,000 euros from his safe. The only public surveillance camera on the island did not catch a glimpse of the crime.

The Mayor

Anyone on the island could become victim to these mysterious thefts. Deputy Mayor Fabio Mazzei was robbed in November 2020, when he was off the island visiting Pisa. He claimed that the robber is someone who knew his schedule and he accused him of waiting for his departure.Mazzei came home to find that his entire safe was missing with 14,000 euros inside. He says, "It is a very sad thing because the feeling is that of having a thief in the family." A teacher is also missing cash and jewelery. The thief also hit two fisherman and a bartender.

The suspect is not stealing from tourists, or unknown neighbours in a large city. They are stealing from their friends.

The three carabinieri on the island are working hard to survey the area and solve the case. Marida Bessi, mayor and president of the Livorno province has put it at the forefront of her priorities.

Born and raised in Capraia, she has always been committed to its wellbeing. She says, "Do you know what I'm most sorry about? It is the risk that the sense of community we have always had will be affected. That's why thefts in Winter, when it's just us, are a blow."

The islanders want the return of their precious ownings, but also the return of the safe and comfortable hug of Capraia that they once knew.

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Sarah Lang
Sarah Lang
I am a student of English writing at the American University of Rome. I was raised for most of my life in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, and I have lived in Rome for almost two years. I am fascinated with the novel form and the postmodern writing style. I hope to continue working with magazines and journals or to find work as an editor after I graduate.
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