ROME (AP) _ Five paintings stolen from a Rome museum have been found, apparently after the thieves thought police were closing in on their trail.

The paintings were stolen on Nov. 15 from a room where they had been stored in the city's Capitoline Museum, which is being renovated.

Police recovered the paintings Saturday, newspapers reported. Among the pieces were three highly regarded 17th-century works: the ``Holy Family'' and ``St. John Baptist'' by Baroque artist Giovanni Francesco Barbiero, better known as Guercino; and ``Sacred Family and Saints'' by Ludovico Carracci.

Experts said it would have been virtually impossible to sell them because of their notoriety.

After a telephone tip, Italian police found the paintings in the village of Bassiano, outside Rome. Investigators believed the thieves apparently thought they were about to be caught and dropped off the paintings near a basement door of a house in the village, newspapers reported.