PARIS (AP) — French police have arrested a gang of pickpockets who dressed like tourists in order to target visitors — mostly Asian tourists — to Paris’ most famous museums and monuments.
The group was sophisticated, dangling cameras from their necks to blend in, always buying entry tickets and slipping away unnoticed. They operated at the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower and the Chateau de Versailles, bringing in as much as 2,000 euros ($2,700) per day by grabbing the wallets of tourists, according to Commissioner Stephane Gouaud.
He said a group of fewer than 10 people was arrested Tuesday after a weekslong investigation. But he warned that other pickpockets are no doubt still at large.
Petty theft, long a concern in Paris, has plagued the city in recent months. Workers at the Louvre went on strike in the spring to protest an increase in thefts. The situation prompted the Paris police to publish a brochure in six languages warning tourists about how to avoid falling victim to such thefts.
The group arrested this week loitered in the most visited areas of the attractions they targeted, hanging out near the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo in the Louvre, Gouaud said.
Between language and cultural barriers and the fact that many tourists are only in town for a short period, Gouaud said the thefts were almost never reported, complicating the investigation.
He wouldn’t give details on how the gang was finally caught.