The situation with pickpockets seems to have worsened considerably since my last visit to the Louvre. Staff walked off the job today to protest, so the museum will be closed all day. Here are two links to the story.... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22098102 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/10/louvre-closed-pickpockets I've never had any problems there but I'm always aware that scammers are working the crowds. Perhaps this will spur authorities to start dealing with the problem more effectively, hopefully before I return later this year. Cheers!
Pickpockets and scammers seem to be thick in every big European city although the UK and ROI seem much less infected. It's almost an intramural sport. In Paris, there are frequent warnings on loudspeakers about pickpockets and there are many warning signs. I've seen police giving some scammers problems but they are usually working without any official interference. Pickpockets are obviously less visible. I'm surprised the Louvre staff staged a strike over this but maybe they all just wanted a day off. I can't imagine pickpockets targeting the Louvre staff. That would definitely get official attention. A few Americans getting robbed doesn't seem to get the Paris police too excited. I've never been robbed but I've had some tries. I carry a decoy wallet with used gift cards and some hand wipes.
Good for them! Nobody should have to work in unsafe conditions. Why would the city allow the situation to degrade to this in the first place, especially at one of its most famous tourist attractions? Tourists should boycott it as well and force the city to do something about it. Go to the Prado instead...better paintings and completely safe.
In reading the news reports, one noteworthy part that stood out was the statement that "the gangs have become increasingly violent". That's not something that the staff should have to deal with in the work place. Perhaps it's time to deploy the Gendarmerie in "problem locations" for awhile, to make it clear that this type of behaviour will NOT be tolerated. I've spoken with them on a few occasions, and was always impressed by their professionalism, and I'm sure they won't put up with any cr@p (they seem very similar to the RCMP). A paramilitary police presence might be just the "tune up" the violent scammers will respect. I suppose this is could be a symptom of the difficult economic conditions in Europe at the moment. The pick pockets may be migrating from the less fortunate countries to the more affluent countries thinking there will be more "opportunities".
I'm sure this is a problem, and I don't want to trivialize it, but... In France, striking is a national past time, LOL!!! And don't shoot me, I love France, my grandparents were from France, and Paris is favorite place in the world. But just sayin... Good luck to them, though. Hopefully this strike will help the situation!
A friend got picked on the walkway overlooking the restaurant at Musee D'Orsay in Feb. He was getting a photo of the glass window clock. All tourists stopping to get this shot, so a prime pick pocketing spot. Fortunately, it was a decoy. When the thief saw it was a dry hole, he dropped it front of him and said "Is that yours?" and dissappeared when my friend picked it up. Standard operating proceedure.
It's possible that the relaxed Passport rules with Romania are at least part of the problem, but likely not the whole problem. CBC aired an award winning program on the subject some time ago (hopefully they will re-broadcast this at some point). Here's a link: http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/passionateeyeshowcase/2010/gypsychildthieves/
I'll send the Louvre staff a link to Rick's Travel Skills program and a supply of moneybelts.
Ethnic Sinti and Roma people - known pejoratively as "gypsies" and I'm a little shocked that the CBC is still using the term, it's somewhat verboten in many other places - can and do operate pickpocketing rings and scam operations in Paris. I've also seen Italian scammers and Russian scammers as well. So I wouldn't be so quick to pin all the problems on one severely disadvantaged ethnic group. Furthermore, as long we're going to make generalizations about ethnic groups, let's not forget the French fondness for a strike regardless of it's effectiveness. I'm not saying that pickpocketing and scammers in tourist areas of Paris isn't an issue, but "The Local" is not real journalism, and lines like this from CBC: "In Spain eight-year-olds robbing grown men at cash machines have become a common sight," are just laughable. Has it happened? I'm sure. Is it a common sight? COMMON? Come on, people. More hysterical reporting courtesy of The Guardian: ""On the metro they no longer speak English, they don't stand together, they're snobs," Eastman said." I have managed to travel on the Metro at least a hundred times in the last two years speaking English, probably too loudly, without being targeted, much less made a victim. It sucks there's a real problem and it sucks that it's affecting visitors and workers but shoddy UK/Canadian/American journalism is just playing into stereotypes and silliness here.
We had a brand new Iphone stolen by Roma children while in Paris, eating at an outdoor cafe. Children! The oldest was probably 8 years old and the two younger ones 6! The Paris police told us there was nothing they could do because of their ages, and that they all lived together in an apartment with adults who taught them clever ways to steal. In our case, they came to the table, with a laminated sign saying in English "We are hungry. Please give us money for food." They placed the sign on the table, and picked up the cell phone with the sign.
Again, the Police said there was nothing they could do because of European laws regarding children.
First, the guards going on strike got your attention, so to say the French just like to strike is stupid. Second, the last gang of teenagers busted in Paris consisted of 500 Bosnians forced by their families to go with the gang and beaten by Bosnian adults if they didn't bring the goods back daily, while the wealthy ringleaders directed the gang from Bosnia. They weren't Roma and they weren't Romanian. These criminal gangs are coming from all over the former Soviet bloc, some involved in a lot worse kinds of traffic. Third, the Louvre has been on a downward slide since it was told to advertise and get bodies to buy tickets. Guards, art history lecturers, and even those info people sitting at the info desk in that noisy pyramid are fed up with crowds and working conditions. It has been very stressful there for many years but marauding teens and children who spit on guards, try to hit them, and worse was the last straw. The Museum direction is interested in your money, but everyone else is doing the heavy lifting.
The workers have a right to strike over these conditions. They should stay on strike until the museum and city fix the problem. DC had a big problem with homeless panhandlers accosting tourists on the mall several years ago...they fixed it because it was bad for tourism. Chicago may have a violent crime problem in many neighborhoods, but can you imagine the impact to tourism if tourists were getting robbed up and down Michigan Avenue or at the Chicago Art Institute every day? And nobody is going to get robbed at MoMA in NYC. Why should tourists, workers, or anyone else have to worry about this kind of crap at one of the most famous museums in the world? If tourists start boycotting the museum, attendance and revenue figures will drop, and they will be forced to fix it. This won't happen, though, because every Tom, Dick, and Harry tourist from Middle America wants to go to the Louvre...it's on the list after all. They won't have happy memories, however, after their iPad is stolen.
I am disappointed that some on this blog are stigmatizing ethnic and national groups. While the French are used to this from certain American quarters and can stand up for themselves Roma people are a persecuted and very poor minority who don't need such borderline racist rhetoric.
@Sarah, "but shoddy UK/Canadian/American journalism is just playing into stereotypes and silliness here." It may not have been CBC that applied the label "Gypsies" to that story. It was actually done by Romanian journalist Liviu Tipurita, so the choice of wording may have been his. Unfortunately, in many cases the people doing the stealing are themselves victims, and only the crime lords are getting rich. In the story, the Italian and Spanish Police showed a chart of the hierarchy of the organization, and it's WELL organized and very sophisticated.
We watch the French news every evening, the TV2 on TV5Monde. No mention of nationality or ethnicity was given. As for ourselves, we've had a few incidents in non-touristy, areas but were always able to either stop it or get our stuff back.
The kids get in for free, because they're kids. If I remember correctly, the Figaro report noted that the authorities have finally decided to bar them for a year (the ones known to them). And sorry to say, but these are definitely Roma, there's no way around that simple fact. The Figaro article also mentioned that their prime targets are Chinese and Japanese tourists, and that French officials are trying to educate their (C & J) tourist industry (tour leaders, etc) to better educate their travelers on savvy traveling (no wads of bills hanging out of your bag, etc).
I know the situation at the Louve is specifically Roma/Sinti kids, but a lot of people are quick to blame ALL tourist scams/pickpocketing Paris/Europe in general on the Roma/Sinti and that's just not accurate. I really doubt North Americans are savvy enough with regards to different ethnic groups in Europe to be able to pinpoint where everyone comes from. According to one report I heard, part of the problem is Hollande's new goverment has backed off a lot of enforcement, unlike the previous government. Don't know how true that is. And obviously I wasn't saying that the strike was pointless (since I clearly said that the pickpocketing at the Lourve was a real problem) I was making a point about ethnic stereotypes and how pointless they are. People can attribute all the crime problems in France to the Sinti Roma, and that's as silly as attributing every strike to French laziness.
"I really doubt North Americans are savvy enough with regards to different ethnic groups in Europe to be able to pinpoint where everyone comes from." Similarly, I would wager some really don't know much about anything they write here and couldn't provide anything too terribly instructive without the assistance of Google.
Perhaps, but it's much more complicated than simply suggesting that Roma people are a bunch of criminals by nature (nobody has actually said that, but the suggestion is evident). That's no different than suggesting blacks here are somehow a criminal race...that would be absurd. Also, the Helpline does have a well-documented history of bigoted and racist posts from some, so David's point isn't completely out of line IMHO.
"Also, the Helpline does have a well-documented history of bigoted and racist posts from some, so David's point isn't completely out of line IMHO." Really? This is about the least racist forum I've ever encountered. Examples? Or is this all about the time I used the term "Paddywagon"? I'm feeling quite niggardly, so perhaps I won't share any more advice for the time being....
Search terms that might return relevant posts/replies from the last few years that haven't been deleted might include France, Muslim, women, burqa, blacks, crime, Italy, gypsies, Peruvian Indians...I could go on.
ok........so...........Don't Carry Valuables!!