Paris beefs up fight on crime against tourists

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.

Paris beefs up fight on crime against tourists
Police police plan a crackdown this summer on crime against tourists. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

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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Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

A convicted murderer linked to one of Italy's most powerful mafia organisations was arrested on Thursday in central France, Interpol said.

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy.

He is wanted in Italy to serve a life sentence for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, and accused of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro “as part of a mafia war between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s”, Interpol said.

The Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death with iron bars in a fish warehouse, Italian police said.

Greco’s arrest in central France came with help for Italy and France from the “Cooperation against ‘Ndrangheta Project” (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.

READ ALSO: Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol’s statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country’s commitment to “fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives”.

The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most extensive and powerful mafia group, Interpol said, operating worldwide and with strong ties to the trade in cocaine bound for Europe from South America

I-CAN’s job is help raise awareness of ‘Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.

The arrest of Greco, who worked in the evenings in a pizza restaurant under an assumed named according to Italian media, came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

The arrest of Greco comes just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.

The 60-year-old was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo