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Louvre reopens after protest over pickpockets

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 01:43

Apr.11 - The Louvre - the world's most visited museum and home to the planet's best known art treasures - has reopened its doors in Paris amid heigtened security after a protest by guards over the proliferation of pickpockets. Ciara Sutton reports

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Crowds return to the world's most famous art gallery amid heightened security. The Louvre in Paris was forced to close on Tuesday after workers staged a lightening one-day strike. Their complaint - gangs of pickpockets operating at the museum. Home to the Mona Lisa, the Louvre receives up to 10 million visitors a year. But staff say it's been plagued by thieves who've targetted visitors and threatened and spat at security guards. The gallery's Deputy manager, Herve Barbaret, says they've taken steps to tackle the problem. (SOUNDBITE) (French) HERVE BARBARET, DEPUTY HEAD OF LOUVRE MUSEUM: "Pickpockets are not welcome at the Louvre. Our security agents know that and are making all the efforts they can, the police are increasing that message." Tourists are essential to the French economy. Around a million of them - the biggest spenders - are Chinese - who see Parisian culture as the epitome of luxury. Andre, a guard at the museum, says the thieves are targetting Asians. SOUNDBITE) (French) MUSEUM GUIDE AT THE LOUVRE, ANDRE, SAYING: "What attracts them is Japanese and Chinese visitors, people who have cash. Americans too. People from Asia aren't used to this kind of violence and they don't know how to react." But not everyone's worried. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHINESE TOURIST, SHUE, SAYING: "My friends say its very serious in Paris. But I didn't meet any of them." (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST VISITING THE LOUVRE, MR GAUDIANO, SAYING: "We read about it in the guidebooks, so we are kind of aware of it. We were at the Eiffel Tower yesterday and were on the lookout for it." Museum managers hope the increased security will reassure their 1000 staff members. So art lovers can once again view some of the world's most famous treasures without having their own stolen.

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Louvre reopens after protest over pickpockets

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 01:43