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Third euro heist hits Italy

Euros stolen even before they have become legal tender  

PALERMO, Sicily -- Italy has suffered its third euro heist in the run-up to the introduction of the new currency on January 1.

About 100,000 euros ($90,000) was taken in the latest robbery at a branch of Banca Popolare di Lodi on the outskirts of Palermo, Salvatore Mulone, a city police inspector said.

The robbers left a trail of money outside the bank after one of the bundles, which had a explosive device hidden in it for security reasons, went off.

Last month three armed robbers dressed in wigs stole 260,000 euros ($228,500) from a Banca di Roma branch on the outskirts of Rome after tying and gagging the bank employees.

In September a gang of heavily armed men stole about 5,000 new euro coins from a postal safe in the southern town of Bari.

How businesses are coping with the change: CNN's Diana Muriel reports

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Italy is not the only country to have fallen victim to thieves before the new single currency becomes legal tender.

About 1.2 million euros were taken from a security van in Giessen, north of Frankfurt, Germany, in September although police recouped most of the money a few weeks later.

The euro enters circulation in 12 countries on New Year's Day, though so-called starter kits have already gone on sale.

Fifty billion new coins and 14.5 billion new banknotes will become legal tender in the 12 countries which have chosen to adopt a single currency and become part of "euroland" on New Year's Day.

The 12 participating countries are Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.


• Banca di Roma

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