11 Apr 2013

Pickpocket protest closes Louvre for day

3:09 pm on 11 April 2013

The world's most popular museum closed for a day as security guards fed up with pickpockets went on strike.

Two hundred guards at the Louvre Museum in Paris stopped work on Wednesday forcing the museum to shut its doors, union representatives said.

The union said pickpockets had multiplied at the site over the past few months and were directing attacks and threats at guards and visitors.

Unions wants better security at the museum, visited by nearly 9 million people each year to view such famous works as the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and Venus de Milo.

Paris police regularly patrol the city's most crowded tourist sites, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

But thieves who often operate in organised gangs are a constant frustration for authorities as they are easily able to exploit tourists and can lose themselves in crowds.

Many of those arrested do not hold French nationality or are minors, complicating judicial pursuit.

The Louvre posts signs warning against pickpockets at its entrances.