The Italian Almanac

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gentleman thief

Gentleman Thief

Italian police have caught up with a `gentleman thief` who spoke softly so as not to scare staff and made sure children didn`t witness his deeds. Sicilian-born Carmelo Balzari, 33, ``never frightened`` clerks and would deliberately make small talk with staff until children had left the banks he was about to rob.

The ``sharply dressed and softly spoken`` bandit once gave up on a robbery when a bank manager reacted ``too sharply,`` police said. ``All right, I`ll leave,`` Balzari is said to have murmured. On another occasion he waited until a mother with a small child had left the premises before, seemingly reluctantly, telling a clerk: ``I really must carry out a raid``.

``He was a real gentleman, a kind you don`t often see any more,`` a Carabinieri officer said. Balzari staged ten bank robberies in two months before being nabbed at a high-class Milan hotel.