It is believed the gang stole hundreds of thousands of euros in two years
- They enjoyed the spoils of their ill-gotten gains, staying in fancy hotels
- Police claim the group invested money in real estate in Romania
- The gang worked in small teams and often dressed up as tourists
- They would buy tickets and steal from visitors on the tower’s decks
Paris police say they have arrested members of a roving gang of pickpockets who each stole up to €4,000 (£2,875) a day while preying on foreign tourists at the French capital’s famous landmarks.
It is believed the gang has earned hundreds of thousands of euros while stealing wallets and other belongings from visitors at sights such as the Eiffel Tower and Palace of Versailles over the last two years, Le Figaro reported.
Ten people were arrested during a sweep at two hotels in Issy-les Moulineaux and Meudon in Paris’ suburbs, just days after Eiffel Tower workers walked off the job and demanded increased security over concerns about aggressive thieves who target visitors and intimidate staff.
Police believe the gang earned hundreds of thousands of euros while targeting tourists at Paris attractions
Police claim the pickpockets, who travelled to Paris from Romania, enjoyed the spoils of their ill-gotten gains and ‘lived the high life’ while staying in hotels, Le Figaro reported.
In 2014 alone the group spent more than €100,000 (£72,000) on hotel rooms, and boasted by posting photos on social media showing themselves with wads of cash, the newspaper reported.
It said the rest of the money was sent back to Romania, where it was invested in real estate.
Police claim the group worked in teams of three and four, and would dress up as tourists – wearing hats and bum bags (fanny packs) – to avoid suspicion.
The pickpockets would buy tickets to access the Eiffel Tower’s observation decks and steal from visitors while they were distracted.
Police made the arrests after a lengthy investigation, which used CCTV to identify the suspects and rivalled a drug trafficking investigations in terms of the amount of investigative work that went into it, the newspaper said.
French police worked alongside the Romanian Embassy in Paris and seven Romanian liaison officers based in France.
On May 22 the Eiffel Tower was forced to close for the entire day after employees refused to work over claims the attraction’s operator and police weren’t doing enough to curb a rise in aggressive pickpockets.
Workers said they are tired of the ‘daily scourge’ of thieves who they claim are responsible for several attacks and threats against staff and tourists.
Eiffel Tower workers recently walked off the job amid concerns about a rise in aggressive pickpockets
Employees demanded lasting and effective solutions to reduce petty crime and make the area safer.
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world, and one of the most visited attractions in the French capital.
The 126-year-old iron lattice tower is open every day – barring bomb threats or strikes – and draws almost seven million visitors a year.
About 75 per cent of its visitors are foreigners, and it is regarded as the most-visited paid monument in the world.
As one of the most popular destinations in the world, Paris is known for its problems with thieves and con artists.
In response to concerns about crime Paris authorities have adopted additional security measures – including increased police presence and video surveillance.
Police announced in May violent theft was down 25 per cent and pickpocketing was down 23 per cent from January to April of this year, compared with the same four-month period in 2014.
China’s Embassy previously warned Chinese tourists not to take the RER train from Charles de Gaulle Airport to central Paris, telling media a number of visitors had been robbed of money, passports and other belongings.