Paris sees drop in crime against tourists
Ben McPartland · 3 Oct 2013, 10:33
Published: 03 Oct 2013 10:33 GMT+02:00
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After a spring in which reports of attacks on tourists and robberies at famous landmarks like the Louvre Gallery hit the headlines, a summer crackdown on crime against visitors appears to have had the desired effect.
According to police figures released on Thursday the number of thefts and incidents of pick-pocketing in Paris fell by 22.4 percent, compared to the same period in 2012.
And significantly the number of foreign victims of pickpocketing and theft in July and August fell by 16.5 percent from 3,438 to 2,870.
Police reported drops in crime in all the capital’s major tourist areas – Montmartre, Champs-Elysées, Champs de Mars, the Trocadero, the Louvre, Notre-Dame and the Opera department stores.
The most significant decrease was recorded at the Louvre where there were 30 percent fewer victims of theft in 2013 than in summer 2012.
Last month The Local reported how police had smashed a gang of “Eastern European” thieves who had targeted tourists in Paris.
The suspects were part of a “highly structured” gang, all aged between 21 and 35, most of whom were lodged in hotels in the Saint-Denis area, north of Paris.
The thieves' modus operandi, involved posing as tourists themselves in a bid to avert the suspicions of their unsuspecting prey. They would carry around cameras and enter inside the attractions where they would hunt for victims.
“The Louvre was their main field,” a police source told AFP who added that the thieves would target mainly Asian tourists, who they believed were carrying large sums of money.
According to Paris police the same downward trend in thefts was also noted by security services working with tour operators in the capital, who reported a drop in the number of reported thefts over the summer.
Overall crime in the main tourist areas fell by 9.7 percent compared to summer 2012.
The Tourist Office, Paris transport chiefs and the Town Hall all “expressed their satisfaction on the effectiveness of police measures” implemented to protect visitors, AFP reports.
Cracking down on robberies against tourists has been a priority for the authorities in Paris and the French government in recent months after China asked Paris to do more to protect its citizens in the aftermath of an audacious robbery on a group Chinese tourists.
Exasperated staff at the Louvre gallery staged a walk-out earlier this year to highlight the problems they face on a daily basis trying to deal with “aggressive” pickpockets.
Police reacted by increasing their presence in tourist hot spots, something they say will continue throughout the autumn and winter months.