Gang of Senior Armed Robbers in Their 60s and 70s Arrested in Italy

A gang of six alleged armed robbers led by senior citizens in their 60s and 70s have been arrested in Italy after carrying out several armed burglaries at post offices in Rome.

70-year-old Italo De Witt, nicknamed “the German”, Sandro Baruzzo, 68, and 77-year-old Raniero Pula look more like harmless grandpas than hardened criminals, but appearances can be deceiving. Italian prosecutors claim that they were the leaders of a ruthless gang of armed robbers that specialized in Rome post offices. The gang had a very clear structure, with the three elderly gentlemen at the top, and three other experts, a key maker (66) to breach the various locks, and two bricklayers (51 and 56 years old) who handled “the hole” through which the gang entered the post offices. All members had criminal records, but the leaders had particularly impressive records that went back all the way back to the 1970s. Apparently, some people never change.

Photo: Ricardas Brogys/Unsplash

Italian authorities began investigating the gang’s activities after a post office robbery in May of last year when three individuals wearing masks, hats, and sunglasses so as not to be recognized, held the staff at gunpoint and managed to make off with 195,000 euros ($211,000). Since then, investigators learned that they planned at least two more robberies, both of which were eventually canceled due to various factors.

On August 30, 2023, the gang was supposed to hit a post office, but they aborted the armed robbery after noticing that the security guards loaded only a small sum of money in the ATM, making the potential rewards not worth the risk. Then, on September 6, they were unlucky, as the armored truck they were targeting never arrived at the Rome post office they had planned to hit.

According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, another armed robbery was aborted by the senior citizens because one of them – the 66-year-old key maker – had incontinence problems and needed to get prostate surgery.

Photo: Maxim Hopman/Unsplash

The experienced gang was finally caught on November 6, when they attempted to rob a post office on Via Calpurnio Pisone, oblivious to the fact that they were under police surveillance. As usual, the bricklayers made a hole in the wall and cocealed it with plywood. That’s how three of the gang members entered the post office, but as they were getting ready to escape with 152,000 euros ($165,000), they were apprehended by the police.

During the investigation, prosecutors learned that the three elderly leaders – De Witt, Pula and Baruzzo – rarely talked on the phone, rightly suspecting that police could be listening. Instead, they often met at an obscure bar to lay down their plans for the next operation. All three were old acquintances of the police. De Witt’s first arrest was in 1971, which was followed up by dozens of well-documented crimes, while his two collaborators had their own impressive criminal records.

The six were arrested on armed robbery charges, and following a short trial, the three leaders were sentenced to four years in prison.