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Wednesday, November 12, 1997 Published at 18:22 GMT


Thief offers to return gems to Charles

The Prince of Wales is reported to have lost jewellery worth 65,000 in the burglary

An Italian burglar has given details of jewellery he claims to have stolen from the Prince of Wales.

Renato Rinino, 35, wants to hand back the jewels personally, sell his story and open a pizzeria with the proceeds.

[ image: Renato Rinino, a career petty thief]
Renato Rinino, a career petty thief
The details of the haul which includes five brooches, six gold buttons, a gold and stainless steel watch with a green strap, five pairs of gems and two silver Cartier boxes, emerged during a press conference given by Mr Rinino's lawyer, Alessandro Garassini, in Loana in Liguria, northern Italy.

Mr Garassini confirmed that his client, a self confessed petty thief, also had stolen documents in his possession, but refused to confirm they were letters addressed to the prince from his friend, Camilla Parker Bowles.

The burglary took place on February 24, 1994, but Mr Garassini said he has only made the details public now, because, under Italian law, he can no longer be prosecuted.

[ image: Alessandro Garassini advised Rinino to stay quiet for 3 years]
Alessandro Garassini advised Rinino to stay quiet for 3 years
"My client want to give back the jewels and the things to the Prince of Wales, he don't want money ... he wants to give back the jewels directly to the Prince." said Mr Garassini.

Mr Garassini said he approached the British Embassy in Rome in June to tell them of his client's wish to return the items.

"It seems a positive thing that someone wants to give back things that he has stolen." said Mr Garassini. "For my part I only want to reach a gentleman's agreement with the English Crown."

Rinino is currently in an Italian jail on unrelated theft charges, and according to the Ligurian daily newspaper Il Secolo XIX he wants to earn enough money from his story to be able to go straight.

"I am ready to give back the jewels to the Royals, obviously without any payment. I only ask Charles's pardon and I have a dream in my heart. I would like to be able to shake his hand." he told the paper.

"If Charles pardons me I will give back the jewels. I don't want money for this but I want to be able to sell this incredible story." he continued. "If I manage to earn a bit of money it would not displease me to open a pizzeria and to finish forever with thieving."

David Willey, the BBC's correspondant in Rome, says Rinini's "demands verge on a ransom demand" as he wants to hand over the objects to Prince Charles in person, and to benefit from tv and photographic rights.

Burglar was on holiday

Rinini has told the Italian newspaper that he burgled Prince Charles' apartments at St James's Palace while on holiday. He forced his way through a window after climbing scaffolding while security guards had been distracted by a hang glider landing in the Palace gardens.

[ image: Rinino burgled St James's Palace while on holiday]
Rinino burgled St James's Palace while on holiday
"I noticed it was a very clean house," he told the newspaper. "I thought I had got into the house of someone very, very rich, but never could I have imagined that it was the house of Prince Charles."

He took jewels and documents from a trunk, put them in a child's rucksack and then fled, taking a taxi back to his hotel.

It was not until the next day, when he read British newspapers that he realised who he had burgled. "Only after the theft did I understand that I had got involved in a story bigger than myself," he is quoted as saying in Il Secolo XIX. I was scared of being hunted by the secret services. I was scared of ending up in jail and not ever coming out."

[ image: Rinino may have letters from Camilla Parker Bowles]
Rinino may have letters from Camilla Parker Bowles
Rinini kept his secret for 18 months, until he spoke to Alessandro Garassini, who advised him to let the period of three years pass, after which he believed no action could be taken, then started talks with London to give the items back.

Scotland yard have confirmed that they have been liasing with the British embassy in Rome, and with Italian police.

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