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Police patrol Louvre as it reopened its doors following staff walkout over pickpockets
French militaries patrol on April 11, 2013 at the "Cour Carree" of the Louvre Museum in Paris. Paris's Louvre museum today reopened its doors to the public after a walkout by some staff in protest at gangs of pickpockets operating at the world famous art gallery. Around 20 police officers have now been drafted in to patrol the museum in response to staff concerns, Louvre officials told AFP. The day before, the Louvre failed to open when around 200 employees refused to work saying the museum had become plagued by gangs of increasingly aggressive pickpockets, many of whom were children. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA.
PARIS (AFP).- Uniformed police on Thursday patrolled Paris's Louvre museum as it reopened its doors following a walkout by staff in protest at gangs of violent pickpockets targeting visitors.

Around 20 police officers have now been drafted in to patrol the museum in response to staff concerns, Louvre officials told AFP.

The Louvre failed to open on Wednesday when around 200 employees refused to work saying the museum had become plagued by gangs of increasingly aggressive pickpockets, many of whom were children.

Herve Barbaret, the museum's administrator, told journalists he wanted to see the pickpocket networks dismantled.

"The presence of the police is having a major deterrent effect," he said, adding that he hoped it would be maintained until the problem was resolved.

One member of staff told AFP the pickpockets had in particular targeted Asian tourists.

A museum spokeswoman added that this was because gangs saw Chinese tourists as likely to be carrying large amounts of cash.

On Thursday Chinese visitors appeared to have taken heed of the warnings with many carrying their backpacks on their chest.

One employee, however, told AFP she was doubtful the extra security measures would be sufficient to deter the thieves and said staff would not hesitate to go on strike again.

"If the Louvre does not manage to resolve this problem it is going to create a serious image problem," she said.

Christelle Guyader of the SUD union said late Wednesday management had agreed to a series of measures aimed at reinforcing the police presence around the building.

Disappointed tourists earlier waited in vain in front of the museum, home to works of art such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, which receives some 10 million visitors a year.

Staff said they had been spat at, insulted and even hit by the pickpockets who would return to the museum again and again even after being ejected by police.

The Louvre has around 1,000 staff with some 470 present on any one day.





© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse






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April 12, 2013

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