The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Italian authorities disrupt scheme to steal Enzo Ferrari’s body and hold it for ransom

British ace driver John Surtees, left, and Italian racing car manufacturer Enzo Ferrari at the Ferrari pit of the Monza racing track in Italy in 1964. (AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

Enzo Ferrari, the legend of Italian automotive manufacturing, died in 1988 at age 90. It marked the end of a lifetime devoted to constructing fabulously fast and expensive sports cars. “I build racing cars with the same feverish pleasure with which drug addicts sniff cocaine,” he once remarked. For close to three decades his body lay undisturbed in a tomb in the San Cataldo cemetery of Modena, the Italian city where he was born and founded his vehicular empire.

He was so successful that, in death, his corpse inspired greed among Italy’s criminal element. Italian authorities said Tuesday they’d foiled a plot concocted by Sardinian bandits to break into the cemetery, abscond with Ferrari’s casket and hold his remains for ransom.

The would-be tomb raiders belonged to Anonima Sequestri, a group with a history of kidnapping the living and demanding money for their victims’ release, according to CNN.

Some 300 members of Italian law enforcement, including police as well as paratroopers, were involved in nabbing 34 suspects, the Italian newspaper La Stampa reported. The suspects are members of a crime syndicate based in the city of Orgosolo on the isle of Sardinia, authorities said.

The gang had already cased the cemetery and planned an escape route into the Apennine Mountains on the Italian peninsula. The heist was disrupted as part of an effort to curb drug trafficking on the island, La Stampa noted, as well as the flow of Kalashnikovs and other firearms.

More from Morning Mix

As bees vanish, bee heists multiply

Record 220-pound gold coin stolen from German museum in mysterious heist

Area reporter horrified to learn of slicer heist at Amsterdam Cheese Museum