Paris to create ‘pickpocket taskforce’ after theft reports soar

Paris to create 'pickpocket taskforce' after theft reports soar
Photo: AFP
Paris is to create a 'pickpocket taskforce' after a major rise in thefts in the capital - particularly on public transport.

Pickpocketing has long been an issue in Paris, especially for people using the city's often packed Metro and bus services, but 2019 saw a big rise in offences.

In total 50,000 incidents were recorded by the police in 2019 – 31,000 of them on public transport.

Overall there was a 30 percent increase in offences, with a 40 percent increase recorded on buses, Metros and RER trains.

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Packed trains and platforms can be a thief's paradise. Photo: AFP

Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz has now announced the creation of a 'pickpocket taskforce' in an attempt to tackle the problem.

As well as the police, the taskforce will also involve city transport operator RATP, rail operator SNCF and Paris city hall officials.

“The principle is to bring together all the partners concerned: the police, RATP, SNCF and the City. Together, we will define actions that are targeted primarily at the problem of pickpocketing,” he told French newspaper Le Figaro.
 
The aim, he added, is to “strengthen controls, a firmer criminal response and send a very strong message to those who commit this type of act and to those who are members of networks that may exploit minors.”
 
Transport strikes that severely disrupted Paris public transport provided an unexpected bonus to pickpockets in December as the few trains that ran were extremely crowded.
 
But the problem of pickpocketing is one that has plagued Paris for decades.
 
A high profile court case earlier this year gave some insight into how the pickpocketing gangs work – and the challenges that police face.
 
In October the gang was jailed for a total of 113 years for theft and human trafficking, many of the Romanian gang members had been forcing their children to go out and steal from Metro passengers.
 
Paris transport authority RATP has previously released lists of the stations which have the biggest problems with theft.
 
Gare du Nord station – which is the arrival point for the Eurostar and the RER link to both city airports – and the interchange station Châtelet-les-Halles had the highest number of reports.

Other stations to beware of are those frequently used by tourists, such as Opéra, Strasbourg Saint-Denis and Saint-Michel, which is right next to the Notre Dame cathedral. 

Also on the list are the large stations in the northern, less wealthy part of Paris Gare de l'Est, Stalingrad and Barbès-Rochechouart.

READ ALSO 14 simple ways to avoid pickpockets and petty thieves in Paris

 

 


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