Italy police fool thieves with Brueghel masterpiece copy

Detectives in the town of Castelnuovo Magra, in Liguria, had got wind of the planned heist and secretly installed security cameras at Santa Maria Maddalena church.

Hours later, Italian police declared that they had been informed of rumours regarding the plotted robbery, and placed cameras to catch the thieves in the act.

The surveillance footage of the raid is now being carefully studied and investigators are chasing down those responsible.

Crucifixion depicts the crucifixion of Jesus Christ from above.

On Wednesday, the thieves broke into the display case containing the painting with a hammer and made off with the painting by auto - seemingly unaware that their loot was anything but the real deal.

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That morning, the town mayor Daniele Montebello told press that the theft was "a hard blow for our community".

Police in Italy have been untroubled by the daring robber of a Flemish master's painting, for they have hanged a fake one a month ago. Furthermore, the thieves had fallen right into a police trap that had required the cooperation of half the town to keep quiet. "I thank the police but also some of the churchgoers, who noticed that the painting on display wasn't the original but kept up the secret".

Police are now looking for two men who were seen removing the fake painting and driving off with it in a Peugeot auto, according to La Repubblica.

The popular painting was donated to the church by a wealthy family and was hidden during World War II to prevent it from being stolen by German soldiers.

In a deception to rival the convoluted plots of thrillers such as The Thomas Crown Affair, a gang of Italian thieves were fooled into stealing a worthless painting. In reality, the artwork they stole was a fake that was barely worth the canvass it was painted on.

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