How Pickpockets Closed the Louvre Today

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 10 2013 2:33 PM

How Pickpockets Closed the Louvre Today

People enjoy the sunny spring weather near the Louvre Pyramid at the Cour Carree of the Louvre Museum on April 7, 2013, in Paris.
People enjoy the sunny spring weather near the Louvre Pyramid at the Cour Carree of the Louvre Museum on April 7, 2013, in Paris.

Photo by Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images

Tourists in Paris won't be able to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo today at the city's most famous museum, thanks to roving bands of pickpockets.

That's because about 200 staffers of the Louvre are on strike over the museum's pickpocketing problem, forcing the museum to close for the day. While pickpockets are nothing new to Paris (or the Louvre itself), staffers are saying that the thieves have recently become more organized and aggressive.

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The AFP spoke to Christelle Guyader, a representative for the union orchestrating the Louvre strike. According to her, workers have been subject to "spitting, insults, threats and being struck" by pickpockets recently. She added:

"[Employees] are sometimes scared to work because they are confronted by organized gangs of pickpockets that are more aggressive, who enter the museum with minors who are given free entry into the museum. Even when they are arrested by the police, they return a few days later."

The museum filed a complaint with the state prosecutor late last year over pickpockets, who apparently work the museum in large groups of up to 30. The Louvre, which gets about 30,000 visitors a day according to the Guardian, expects to open back up tomorrow after managers promised increased police presence and restrictions on known pickpockets at the museum.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.