Thursday, February 16, 2006


From the Telegraph:
Italian police have foiled a plot to kidnap a wealthy countess in Piemonte by having a male officer dress up as the target - and fooling the gang.
For four days police lay in wait for the kidnappers at the luxury villa of Countess Anna Maria Fantuzzi, 57 and her husband Count Luigi Bottazzi, 59, in the village of Stazzano.
The police were alerted to the plot to hold her for ransom by phone taps used in another investigation, which was into lorry theft.
Although the countess was never mentioned by name, the would-be kidnappers spoke of her swimming pool, the couple's wealth and the Volkswagen Touareg that the countess drove, which led police to deduce her identity.
Officers even heard how the gang - two Italians and two Bosnians - would attempt to lure the mother of four away from her home by pretending that they worked for the post office.
They then planned to hold her for several days in a camper van parked near the gates of her villa. The two men who were to carry out the kidnapping would wear carnival masks bearing the faces of Felix the Cat and Captain Hook, in a set-up that the gang hoped would lead her husband to pay up a ransom of £137,300.
But in the event it was the police who proved to be the masters of disguise.
The phone call came at 8.45 this Tuesday morning. "Signora Anna, come to the post office. There is a parcel waiting for you," a voice on the line said.
But instead of the countess going in person, one of the policemen went out, dressed in a lady's camel coat and a blonde wig.
The gang pounced on what they thought was their prey. But so did the police, who were hiding in the bushes, and the gang were arrested.
This story annoys me because it confuses the concepts of 'capital'/'lump sum' and 'income.
People retiring this year were warned yesterday that they will need an average total income of at least £130,000 plus state benefits to support themselves until they die.
A study published yesterday said increased life expectancy meant pensioners' money had to last longer. The report found that those retiring over the next 15 years will need even more money as the proportion of state benefits, as part of pensioner income, declines and longevity continues to increase.
Today's 65-year-old man can expect to reach 82 while women retiring at 60 should live until at least 85. But with state benefits accounting for almost half of average pensioner incomes of £12,500 a year, they need around £6,250 from other sources such as private pensions or savings to make up the difference.
That means the average man needs a total income of £106,250 to last until 82, while the average woman needs £156,250 to survive until 85 - an average of about £130,000.

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