Theft at the Louvre Museum

STORY BY Candace Bryan

Published: April 15, 2013

When you hear the words “crime” and “art” together, you probably imagine a high-profile art heist with a gunman and evil mastermind tactics.

That’s certainly what I imagined when I read headlines about the Louvre Museum being shut down due to theft. But while it’s true the museum was forced to close on April 10, the theft that caused the closure was surprising.

The world’s most famous museum, which gets almost ten million annual visitors, has reportedly been experiencing an influx of pickpocketing in the last several months. Young gangs have allegedly been roaming the museum in groups of up to thirty, not only stealing from unsuspecting visitors, but also threatening and spitting at both visitors and staff members alike. On April 10, the museum’s staff was fed up with the violence they were facing, so they organized and walked out on the job. Their absence forced the museum to close for the duration of the day.

How did this happen? How is it that so many thieves are managing to infiltrate a museum with security guards, a museum that requires admission? The Louvre has long had a policy that all people under the age of 18 are allowed to enter the museum for free, as well as 18 to 25 year-olds who are members of the European Union. This means not only that potential pickpockets have easy access to the museum (as long as they are young), but it also means that most of the pickpockets caught and questioned by police are soon released from custody, after which they immediately return to the museum and repeat their crimes.

This crime trend is a problem without an easy solution. If the Louvre begins charging young people for admission, visiting might be discouraged, and the museum could see a huge dip in its number of annual visitors. However, increased police force has been requested for in and around the Louvre, and the museum had reopened as of this morning. Nevertheless, though they have returned, the staff of the Louvre have put an added pressure on the museum’s new director to do something about the its rampant theft.

Via TIME

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