A custodian stands in front of the Modesto way, where last week the Artemis fresco was found to have been chiselled off. Photograph: Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images
Reuters in Rome
Officials from Pompeii's archaeology service said the thieves chipped off a 20cm wide section of fresco depicting the goddess Artemis from a site known as the House of Neptune and Amphitrite, which is not currently open to the public. Security at the site (left) has since been stepped up.
Police said news of the theft, which occurred on 12 March, had been withheld so as not to compromise their investigation of the case, which they described as "particularly delicate".
The latest theft occurred two weeks after sections of wall at the site collapsed during heavy rain, prompting the new culture minister, Dario Franceschini, to promise to increase maintenance work at the site.
One of Italy's most popular attractions, Pompeii was preserved under ash from a volcanic eruption in 79AD and rediscovered in the 18th century. It has become a symbol for decades of mismanagement of Italy's cultural sites after a series of collapses that have brought an international outcry. Reuters