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Plan to arm French village with tear gas

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The mayor of a French village has floated the idea of arming residents with tear gas. Photo: USACE/Google street view
17:49 CET+01:00
Fearful village folk wanting to arm themselves with guns might sound like an image pulled from a forgotten corner of the US, but it's exactly what's happening in a French village after a recent violent robbery. But Town Hall chiefs have an alternative plan to avoid any shoot-outs.

The mayor of a usually tranquil French village is considering a plan to arm his residents with tear gas after a violent armed robbery at the home of a councillor, that left frightened locals reaching for their hunting rifles.

On Sunday night a town council member was shot in the neck at his home in the southwestern French village of Magnac-Lavalette-Villars by a masked intruder. After the robber managed to escape villagers have become somewhat edgy.

Residents of the village, which has fewer than 500 people, wanted to pull their hunting rifles or grandpa’s old blunderbuss out of the attic in order to protect themselves.

This prompted the village's mayor Didier Jobit, and the town council to consider controversially arming residents with spray cans of tear gas.

“The residents’ first reaction was to load their guns and leave them by the door. That’s a real problem for me,” Jobit told The Local. “I told them to put their guns back in the attic. It’s better, with some training, to use the tear gas, which will send the attacker running. Then they should lock themselves in a room and call the police.”

It’s not clear if it would be legal for the village to give tear gas to the residents or even help fund the purchase. Jobit said local law enforcement officials will make the call.

“We don’t want to replace the police,” he said. “We just want to make sure that people don’t get attacked any more in their homes.”

Jobit's call for residents to protect themselves comes as France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls is set to release the crime figures for 2013.

The eagerly awaited stats are set to show a steep rise in the number of burglaries across the country over the last 12 months.

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Officials released a report in December 2013 that revealed more and more foreigners were being arrested for crime in France.

 According to the data published by the National observatory of crime and criminal liability (ONDRP), the number of foreigners accused of robbery and theft in France has shot up by ten percent since 2008.

“The thefts committed in France seem to be changing because, according to the Observatory, an increasing number of their perpetrators are people who have entered the national territory for a temporary period during which they have allegedly committed crimes for the profit of criminal organizations,” the ONDRP said in the report.

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