Verona's mayor says armed bandits stole 17 paintings, including works by Tintoretto, Rubens and Mantegna, from the city's art museum.

Mayor Flavio Tosi said Friday the robbers struck just as the Castelvecchio Museum was closing on Thursday evening in the northeastern Italian city and just before the nighttime alarm system was activated. Museum director Paola Marini estimated the value of the 17 paintings at $16.5 million.

The mayor said the trio of robbers were "professionals, they knew what to take and they knew the museum."

One of the bandits threatened the cashier and an armed guard at gunpoint while two accomplices took the paintings, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The last visitors had already left the museum before the robbery.