Dozens of meticulously planned thefts on a remote island; all the inhabitants are potential suspects. In an investigation that would befit Agatha Christie’s sleuth, Hercule Poirot, the three police officers on Capraia, an island off Tuscany, must tread carefully as they hunt for the culprits among the population of about 400.
The island’s mayor, Marida Bessi, told the newspaper Corriere della Sera that cracks were already starting to show in the otherwise close-knit community, with friends and neighbours eyeing each other suspiciously.
Most of the robberies, of homes and shops, have taken place during the winter, when visitors are absent from the island, which lies closer to Corsica than it does to mainland Italy and is only accessible by boat, weather permitting. In the most recent incident the thieves deactivated the CCTV camera in a tobacco shop before taking €60,000 (£52,000) from the safe.
They also broke into the home of the deputy mayor, Fabio Mazzei, in November and made off with a safe containing cash and jewellery that had been hidden in some furniture. “It is a very sad thing because there is the feeling of having a thief in the family,” Mazzei told the newspaper. “They struck on the right day, as they knew I was going to Pisa for a visit. They knew the house very well.”
Most of the inhabitants keep their money at home, as the island’s only bank closed last year. That the CCTV camera in the square is broken is proving to be another stumbling block in the investigation.
The inquiry has so far yielded many theories but no clues, Bessi said. “The island’s three police officers are very good, they are doing everything they possibly can,” she told Corriere. “But they should have more investigative tools as otherwise it really is an unsolvable crime story.”
Two-thirds of the 19 sq km island was occupied by a penal colony until 1986, and inhabitants had lived peacefully until the recent thefts. The population swells to about 4,000 during the summer.
“The risk now is that the sense of community we have always had will be damaged,” Bessi said.