Eiffel Tower reopens after walkout

Eiffel Tower reopens after walkout

The Eiffel Tower closed to the public for most of the day as workers protested over a rise in aggressive pickpockets around the Paris landmark.

The walkout came a day after city authorities announced that crime against tourists in the French capital had dropped this year thanks to reinforced police presence and video surveillance.

The tower did not open this morning because staff were concerned about petty crime around the site. Clusters of tourists streamed beneath the tower, unable to reach its viewing platforms.

It remained closed while staff and management held meetings about security measures, then reopened in the late afternoon, according to the company that manages the site.

The tower is normally open every day of the year, but sometimes closes briefly for bomb threats or strikes.

Tower employee Denis Vavassori of the CGT union said the workers want a permanent police presence.

“It is a growing problem. There were always pickpockets at the Eiffel Tower but now we are really facing an organised group,” he said.

Police officers patrolled the area today on bikes, on foot and in cars.

“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 tourist Francisco Madeira of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who visited the site before the tower reopened. “There should be more organisation and police.”

Workers at the Louvre Museum staged a similar walkout in 2012.

Paris authorities said yesterday that violent theft was down 25% and pickpocketing was down 23% in the first four months of 2015, compared with the same period last year.

City authorities have also broken up several major theft networks, according to prosecutor Francois Molins, who visited the Champs-Elysees tourist district yesterday to show how seriously police are taking crime against visitors.

Paris has also heightened security since January terror attacks in the city left 20 dead, including three attackers.

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