“We are doing everything we can to make sure that tourists are secure in a safe and peaceful city without transforming the city into a bunker,” said Paris police chief Michel Delpuech as he visited police on duty around the Louvre museum.
The Louvre is one of seven sites in the French capital that will be getting special police attention this summer.
The others are Montmartre, the Champs-Elysées, the area around Trocadéro and the Eiffel tower, the Latin Quarter, Châtelet and Opéra.
Paris welcomed 18 million tourists last year and the number is set to be even bigger in 2018. Trying to keep them safe is a major undertaking, and this summer the 5,000 officers have been deployed for the peak season, from June 11 till September 30.
“Ninety percent of thefts that tourists suffer are from bag snatchers or street sellers, card sharks or people with fake petitions,” Frédéric Dupuch, a senior Paris security official, told Le Parisien newspaper.
Figures given to The Local from the ministry of interior revealed there were 134,000 non-violent thefts in Paris last year which would include pickpocketing, bag and mobile phone snatches. Although it is not clear how many of thieves thefts were against tourists nor where in Paris they took place.
Tourists at the Trocadero area overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP
Police stats from the summer season last year said that between mid-June and mid-September, 1,887 street sellers of mini-Eiffel towers and other trinkets were arrested, and 703 bag or phone snatches were recorded in the seven major tourist zones of the city.
Since the extra police deployment began this year on June 11, 24 people have been arrested for scams such as fake petitions or three-card tricks, 333 people have been arrested for illegally selling goods on the street, and 748 kilos of goods have been seized – mostly mini-Eiffel towers and metal love-locks that tourists attach to Paris bridges.
Victims of anti-tourist crimes can now use a multilingual form in police stations to lodge their complaints.
And bilingual police officers have been deployed on the streets, backed up by French students of foreign languages, to help distressed tourists.