Eiffel Tower closed during walkout over pickpockets

The Eiffel Tower closed to the public for most of the day yesterday as staff 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 yesterday 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,the firm that manages the site said.

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 staff 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 areayesterday 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 re- opened. “There should be more organisation and police.”

Workers at the Louvre Museum staged a similar walkout in 2012. Paris authorities yesterday said violent theft was down 25% and pickpocketing was down 23% in the first four months of 2015, compared to last year.

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