Italy is home to a priceless collection of artistic, historical and cultural heritage. These elements, including several listed art masterpieces, as well as a number of ornamental elements, small votive paintings and archaeological sites, are often easy prey for criminals aiming to make huge illegal profits.
In order to effectively prevent the looting of such a “widespread museum”, the Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale has been in operation since 1969 and is now considered a worldwide leader in its field, setting international benchmarks.
The main activities carried out by the unit include combating theft, illegal excavations of archaeological sites, as well as trafficking and counterfeiting of stolen property. Equal attention is paid to inspecting premises of antique dealers and to tracing and, possibly, returning stolen or illegally exported art pieces. Investigators manage such tasks by consulting the “database of stolen works of art”, a comprehensive list available to civilians and to foreign police forces alike.
In the sensitive area of prevention and fighting against counterfeiting the Corps operates, both domestically and internationally, with its own department: the Comando Carabinieri Antifalsificazione Monetaria. Its tasks range from identifying counterfit flows stemming from organised crime groups to providing local units with specialist support, from cooperating, to sharing information with foreign counterparts in the fight against increasingly sophisticated counterfeiting techniques.