"Specialist of the 64" banned from public transport

A notorious pickpocket known as the "Specialist of the 64" – in reference to his preference for targeting tourists on Rome's 64 bus – has been banned from travelling on public transport in all Italian cities.

In spite of being arrested multiple times over the last 20 years the serial pickpocket, originally from Puglia in southern Italy, continued to remove wallets from unsuspecting tourists on the 64, a normally crowded bus that travels from Termini train station to the Vatican and is synonymous with pickpockets.

After police caught the 57-year old thief in the act for the umpteenth time – relieving an American tourist of a wallet near Largo Argentina – the courts decided to take decisive action to end the pickpocket's "career", barring him from public transport and confining him to within four blocks of his home between 06.00 and 17.00 every day.

The "specialist" was one of five pickpockets arrested by undercover police aboard the capital's buses and trams on 27 August. The other thieves included an Algerian, a Macedonian and an Italian male and female double-act.

Earlier this month the 64 was identified by the British government in a safety guide for tourists coming to Rome. The British Consul David Broomfield warned "Visitors to Italy and especially to Rome should be aware of the high risk of personal theft, bag snatching, pick pocketing, that is endemic on public transport and at main tourist attractions in Rome."

The travel alert was rejected by Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino who responded "The incidence of petty crime in several European and American cities is much higher than in Rome. The capital is complex like many big cities but it is hospitable."

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