Pickpocket thefts on Paris public transports uprockets with 33 percent, with the 'yellow vests' problem blamed again.
On Frontpage: One Eastern European pickpocket gang, masquerading as tourists at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Versailles, made an estimated €700,000 and wired the money back to Romania!
The number of pickpocket thefts in Paris has rocketed 33 percent since the start of the year, with tourists the prime prey of gangs of mainly Eastern European minors, according to police.
Public transport authorities accounted the worrying rise to security agents being overwhelmed by violent yellow vest protesters in the French capital in recent months. They also blamed the rise on the difficulty in prosecuting, or expelling where applicable, the foreign, underage thieves they do catch.
The situation has got so bad that metro subway drivers now regularly make announcements to passengers when they detect gangs of pickpockets entering a train, telling them to hold tight to their belongings.
According to the police cited by 'Le Parisien', gangs of mainly young girls, numbering between five to ten, throw themselves into a wagon when they see unsuspecting tourist visitors.
Locals are wise to learn their methods, and simply just leave a carriage when they arrive, or stick to the hanging at the train sides. “Tourists come all the time but they do not file a legal complaint because they don’t want to waste time,” one public transport employee told the paper.
“We phone the police to come and intervene, but as the thieves perfectly know their rights, saying that they are minors, and then they are let go within 15 minutes.”
One police chief told 'Le Parisien' that the rise in pickpockets was due to the “gilet jaunes” (yellow vests), who have been causing havoc in central Paris every Saturday for months.
“The police teams have been mobilised every Saturday during the yellow vest demonstrations, so we couldn’t deal with anything else,” he said.
Some 56 percent of the suspected pickpockets, arrested in Paris public transport, are minors, he said. Also adding that the possibility of pressing charges were “limited”.
Some 90 percent of the thieves are from Eastern Europe or the North Africa region (Algeria, Morocco or Tunisia).
The police chief warned people against 'taking them on by yourself', as “some of them, don’t hesitate to use knives or teargas in a fight”.
The rise comes despite attempts to warn tourists via multi-lingual brochures and introducing a simplified way of filing a legal complain in metro and police stations for insurance purposes. Paris police has also this year put in place a special “Paris tourist plan” designed to safeguard their metro stations.
There have been a number of high-profile court cases of pickpocket rings in recent years, notably of a notorious gang masquerading as tourists at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Versailles, who made an estimated €700,000 and wired the money back to Romania.
In an editorial, 'Le Parisien' warned that not telling the truth, turning a blind eye to the fact that most of the pickpocket thieves were Eastern Europeans, would only play into the hands of the far-Right politicians and make those who are quiet about that el facto reality, 'look like fools and stupids'.
Le Parisien is a French daily newspaper covering both international and national news, and local news in Paris and its suburbs.