Italian police break up Fiat 500 car-share theft gang

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPolice raided a site in Naples where they found dismantled Fiat 500s

Three people have been arrested in Italy on suspicion of stealing more than 100 Fiat 500 cars from a car-sharing company in Rome.

The suspects are thought to have used fake accounts to join the scheme. They then disabled the cars' GPS-trackers and sold the cars for parts.

Police were alerted when car-sharing service Enjoy said 100 of its red Fiat 500s had been stolen in six months.

The service's owner ENI said it had lost €1.5m (£1.25m; $1.6m).

According to police, the thieves, based around Naples, joined the car-sharing scheme by creating fake accounts using stolen identities and credit card details.

They would then take the train to Rome, take as many as three of the distinctive red cars at a time and disable their GPS trackers before driving back at high speed by motorway to Naples. At that point the cars were dismantled and their parts sold off.

Image copyright Carabinieri Roma
Image caption Rome police released a video showing officers inspecting engine parts found during their investigation

After police began investigating the gang, a second GPS tracker was installed in the cars which helped lead investigators to the suspects.

However, the gang soon spotted the second device and threw it into the street.

Police said their breakthrough finally came when they raided a house belonging to two of the suspects where they found credit cards, ID cards, phone Sim cards and social security numbers, all in other people's names.

Many of the details had been used to create car-sharing accounts, police said. The three suspects were detained on allegations including aggravated theft and unauthorised use of a credit card.

More on this story