A foiled jewellery heist in the Sicilian town of Acireale involved construction of a 1km-long tunnel in a month. The four-strong tunnel gang were spotted emerging from a manhole several metres from their target jewellery shop, where police say they were waiting for darkness to break through.

Shovels and hand picks were used for excavation, with metal struts and wooden planks for support. Two-way radios provided logistic communications and a small generator was used to power the lights, as well as torches attached to hard hats.

Part of the alignment ran alongside a sewer. All equipment was taken as evidence.

The historic centre of Acireale is known for its jewellers.

In Italy tunnels are occasionally used by mafia bosses for escape routes and hiding places. In 2009 police apprehended a gang leader with a 200m escape tunnel that led to a shaft that emerged into a field.