For the past eight months, a mysterious figure known as ‘Flexman’ has been disabling speed cameras across various Italian regions, earning the admiration of motorists but raising concerns for authorities. Using an angle grinder, Flexman cuts the supporting metal poles of speed cameras, rendering them inoperative. The term “flex” itself is a nod to the German company Flex, which invented the angle grinder in 1954, and the tool is still referred to as a ‘flex’ in many European countries.
Flexman gained notoriety in May of the previous year when he disabled a speed trap near Bosaro in Italy’s Rovigo region. Since then, he has successfully taken down at least seven more cameras in Rovigo and Veneto, always operating stealthily between 1 and 2 in the morning. Authorities remain baffled about his identity and methods, as Flexman continues his vigilante mission against what he perceives as an excessive proliferation of speed cameras.
The enigmatic saboteur has been dubbed ‘the motorists’ vigilante’ by his supporters, who see him as a modern-day Robin Hood fighting against a system more concerned with revenue generation than road safety. Flexman’s actions, however, are viewed differently by law enforcement and municipal authorities, who consider him a criminal causing significant financial damage, with repairs costing tens of thousands of euros.
Mirco Gennari, the provincial coordinator of the local police workers’ union, acknowledges Flexman’s criminal activities but expresses hope that the vigilante’s popularity among motorists will prompt administrations to reconsider the indiscriminate placement of speed cameras. Gennari highlights the misuse of local police, reducing them to mere tax collectors instead of focusing on their primary role in ensuring public safety.
Flexman’s influence extends beyond Rovigo and Veneto, as reports indicate that his exploits have inspired disgruntled motorists in other parts of Italy. Some have resorted to extreme measures such as blowing up speed traps or pelting them with rocks, while others have adopted Flexman’s approach of using an angle grinder.
Italian authorities face the challenge of enforcing the law against Flexman under Article 635 of the Italian Penal Code, which stipulates a prison sentence for damaging or destroying others’ property. However, to implement this punishment, prosecutors must first unravel the mystery surrounding Flexman’s identity.
Despite being labeled a criminal, Flexman remains a symbol of hope for frustrated Italian motorists burdened with hefty speeding fines. His latest act occurred on the night between December 23 and 24, 2023, when two speed cameras were disabled on the ring road near the Corso Savona junction in Asti.