Grave tale of pensioner 'tomb-raider'

ROME - Italian police have seized nearly 9000 ancient artefacts from a 74-year-old pensioner who sold looted antiquities at a flea market in Rome.

Police stopped the man on Monday and found three bags of Etruscan and Roman pieces in his car.

They also discovered a laboratory to clean and restore antiquities at his house, as well as what they described as a "classic tomb-raider kit".

Among the 8972 pieces were terracotta vases, amphorae, masks, statues and parts of marble columns.

The man, whose name was not given, used to sell bric-a-brac at Rome's popular Porta Portese market.

Customers in the know were offered much more prized samples from a collection "worthy of an archaeology museum", police said.

Italian police are cracking down on tomb raiding - a crime that has gone largely unchecked for centuries.

A former curator at the Getty Museum in LA is on trial in Rome for allegedly buying looted antiquities.

- REUTERS

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