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Tourists are often robbed by foreign petty criminals in Paris. On the Pont d'Arcole, Hôtel de Ville. Photo: Alicia Steels

Foreign criminals tarnish the image of France

These delinquents from Romania continue their rampage all over Europe, in the streets as well as around museums. In France, they rob tourists with complete impunity.

Published: August 31, 2020, 8:49 am

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    And because these petty criminals commit multiple low-intensity crimes, they are tarnishing the image of France as a tourist destination. Some of them have specialized in theft to the detriment of tourists who have come to admire the masterpieces on display in the Louvre or visit the Palace of Versailles.

    Besides France, these delinquents, originally from Romania, are also seen in the alleys of historical monuments and museums in many European countries (Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain). The members of these structured gangs repatriate their loot via numerous cash orders to Romania.

    Last June, French justice sentenced six Romanian criminals, aged 35 to 51, to terms ranging from fourteen to thirty months in prison. Only one of the defendants was in the box of the Paris Criminal Court.

    His five accomplices had European arrest warrants issued for them because they have never been arrested or because they took advantage of their release before their trial was held to disappear. In the box, Catalin, a colossus with a dark complexion whose role was to steal wallets, confessed but pretended to be an mere opportunist rather than a career criminal.

    He told the court that he was selling tickets on the sly as well as water to tourists in front of the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre. “I agreed to help a man who approached me at the Louvre. I went twice because I was depressed. My wife left me and all my money was spent on alcohol and poker.”

    Although he was regularly observed by police with his accomplices, he claimed not to have been there often. His lawyer, Tarek Koraitem, argued that the investigation should not include the mention of the many other thefts that his client had committed in museums. Catalin was sentenced to two years in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Noteworthy however, is that more than 250 000 euros were transferred by the members of his gang to their country of origin.

    According to Le Parisien, the gang of international thieves is suspected of having, between October 2017 and July 2018, robbed no less than 110 tourists in Paris and Versailles. The same people stayed in low-end hotels and paid for everything in cash. Investigators established that they had spent up to 6 000 euros in a month.

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