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Paris beefs up fight on crime against tourists

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Paris beefs up fight on crime against tourists
Police police plan a crackdown this summer on crime against tourists. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP
11:20 CEST+02:00
Paris has unveiled new measures to protect the 30 million visitors it hosts every year from pickpockets and muggers but has dropped plans -- announced after high-profile attacks on Asian tourists -- to bring in Chinese police officers.

Key among the measures is the use of special police teams dedicated to fighting crime on the Champs Elysees and in the Gare du Nord -- where countless tourists arrive in the French capital from the airport or on trains from Britain and other countries. 

The security plans, announced at Louvre Museum by the Paris police chief, also increase to ten the number of highly popular tourist zones ones that will get special police attention, adding the Boulevard Saint-Germain, the Latin Quarter and Châtelet to areas such as the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre.

The measures build on a security plan drawn up last year in response to a wave of crime against tourists that at one point led staff at the Louvre to go on strike to protest the mini-armies of pickpockets, many from eastern Europe, operating inside the museum.

Paris police chief  Bernard Boucault said that a Bulgarian and a Bosnian officer would join the handful of Romanian police working in Paris alongside French counterparts but that for “technical” reasons, Chinese officers would not be brought in, as officials had previously announced.

Chinese tourists, who are estimated to spend an average of €1,300 during their holidays in France, are seen by criminals as a lucrative target as they often carry large amounts of cash.

Robbers attacked a group of Chinese visitors in March last year in a restaurant in and relieved them of €7,500 in cash, plane tickets and passports. Around one million Chinese tourists come every year to Paris, the world’s most visited city, and their numbers are expected to grow.

Tourists who flock to sites like Notre Dame or the Trocadero area are targeted by organised gangs of thieves and pickpockets, many of them children, from the Balkans and eastern Europe, who brandish fake "petitions" or requests for charity donations.

By Rory Mulholland

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