Burglars struck in Pavilion 8 at MIFED over the weekend, stealing laptop computers, wallets and a Palm Pilot from at least two companies. The losses will be covered by the market's insurance policy, says the MIFED organisation.

As misfortune would have it, however, the robberies occurred just days before members of AFMA are due to gather here for showdown talks on whether Milan is the ideal venue for autumn film sales markets in the future.

At Moonstone Entertainment, thieves broke into the locked office overnight on Saturday and took a computer, while at Cinemavault Releasing, they unscrewed the hinges of the door and stole a laptop on Sunday night.

Cinemavault's Amy Beecroft had already had a wallet and palm pilot taken from her handbag in the back office of the Cinemavault booth on set-up day Saturday.

"I am aware of the thefts," said MIFED product manager Elena Lloyd, when contacted yesterday. "We have insurance that will pay back all their losses. It's the first time it's happened here. It has happened in other markets before. We pay insurance and told the people to report it to the police. What else can we do about' We can't do any more for security, the offices are padlocked. It could be someone next to the office who did this. But these thefts are a small problem compared to the way the whole market is going."