Eiffel Tower Closes Due To Strike Over Pickpockets

The historic Parisian monument was closed for most of Friday as staff protested against crime around the landmark.

A strike was called by staff who demanded more assistance from authorities in order to combat organized pickpockets that operate around the Eiffel Tower. “There have always been pickpockets at the Eiffel Tower, but we are now facing an organized network”, said a union representative. Staff are calling for the deployment of additional Paris police, according to Reuters.

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Tourists fall victim to aggressive pickpockets

The company responsible for running the tower maintains that it already cooperates with police in order to ensure security at one of the most famous tourist sites in the world. In true French tradition, the strikers closed the Eiffel Tower from 9.30 local time until the late afternoon.

“Unfortunately there are here people who assault and try to steal. So we do feel less free, and lose the opportunity to visit this beautiful monument,” said Francisco Madeira, from Sao Paulo, who visited the Eiffel Tower. “There should be more organization and police.”

Just one day before the strike Parisian authorities launched an initiative aimed at improving tourist protection at sites like the Eiffel Tower, claiming that theft close to main attractions had fallen year-on-year. Violent theft has fallen 25% and pickpocketing is down 23% over the course of the first four months of 2015, compared to the same time period in 2014.

Most visited country in the world beefs up security

Prosecutor Francois Molins claims that authorities have broken up several major crime rings. He visited the Champs Elysee on Thursday in an effort to show that police are serious about combating crime against tourists. Two years ago a similar strike closed the world famous Louvre art museum for a day, as staff protested pickpocketing which targeted visitors and workers.

According to figures provided by the French government, France is the most visited country in the world. Nearly 85 million foreigners visit the land of wine and cheese per year, while the capital city received 47 million visitors in 2014, approximately half of whom were foreigners.

Security in the French capital has been stepped up since the terror attacks this January.