The world’s most visited art museum is dealing with an influx of unwelcome visitors.
A staff walkout over the rise of pickpockets forced the Louvre in Paris to shut its doors Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports.
Workers say that thieves have been showing up at the museum in gangs of up to 30 — primarily made up of young Eastern Europeans — and are responsible for incidents of “spitting, insults, threats” and striking employees and visitors.
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Staffers “come to work afraid because they find themselves confronted with organized groups of pickpockets who are increasingly aggressive and which include children, who get into the museum free and even when taken in for questioning by police, come back a few days later,” Christelle Guyader, a representative for the network of trade unions Solidaires Unitaires Démocratiques (SUD), told the AFP.
The Louvre did request more police protection late last year and is planning to immediately increase law enforcement presence around the premises, as well as limit access to people already outed as pickpockets, a spokesperson for the museum told the AFP.
Last year, nearly 9.7 million people visited the landmark, best-known as the home of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.