PARIS — The Eiffel Tower closed to the public Friday as workers protested a rise in aggressive pickpockets around the Paris landmark that attracts thousands of visitors daily, AP reports. The walkout came a day after Paris authorities said crime against tourists in the French capital had dropped this year thanks to reinforced police presence and video surveillance.
The company that manages the tower said it did not open Friday because the staff was concerned about petty crime around the site and it is working with police to reach a solution. Crowds of tourists streamed around the monument, unable to reach its viewing towers. The tower is normally open every day of the year but sometimes closes briefly for bomb threats or strikes.
Workers at the Louvre staged a similar walkout in 2012, complaining of a rising problem of pickpockets haunting the famed Paris museum’s vast galleries. Paris authorities said violent theft was down 25 per cent and pickpocketing was down 23 per cent in the first four months of 2015, compared with the same period last year, according to numbers released Thursday. In recent months, city authorities have also broken up several major theft networks, according to Prosecutor Francois Molins, who paid a special visit to the Champs-Elysees tourist district Thursday to show how seriously police are taking crime against visitors.
Paris has also heightened security since the January attacks against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket that left 20 dead, including the three attackers.