Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Urgent Paris travel alert issued as Brits warned of gangs, fraud and theft

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun1,2024

Sports enthusiasts heading to Paris for the summer Olympics are being warned of a surge in criminal activities, including theft, violence, fraud, and sexual assaults, according to Paris’s chief prosecutor, Laure Beccuau.

Beccuau highlighted that the influx of an estimated 16 million visitors, including about 1.5 million foreign tourists, will likely exacerbate the French capital’s usual criminal activities. Nearly 500,000 Britons are anticipated to attend the games, as per the organising committee.

“We are expecting the arrival of Eastern European and South American gangs that specialise in ripping luxury watches, jewellery, and handbags off tourists,” Beccuau told French media.

Such crimes are not new to Paris, with numerous Rolex thefts around the Champs Elysées in recent years, but the Olympics are expected to increase these incidents.

In an interview with Le Parisien, Beccuau warned of an anticipated rise in “sexual assaults, rapes [and] fights” fuelled by increased alcohol consumption during the event.

Additionally, French officials predict a surge in fraud schemes, from fake tickets and online rental scams to illegal taxis and street cons like the notorious three-card monte. This trick, often seen around tourist hotspots such as the Eiffel Tower, involves hustlers coaxing tourists into betting on rigged games.

Beccuau also expressed concern about a potential increase in both child and adult prostitution linked to the influx of visitors.

“In reality, they are the same types of offences that await tourists … each summer in Paris,” she told France Info, adding that the volume of such crimes is expected to rise rather than the types of offences.

Amid the looming threat of terrorist attacks, the French government has announced the deployment of 35,000 police officers and 18,000 soldiers to ensure security during the games.

On the day of the opening ceremony, scheduled for July 26, 45,000 police officers will be on duty as 10,500 athletes are transported along the Seine in a flotilla of boats.

British police, equipped with sniffer dogs, will also assist during the games, while the UK Ministry of Defence will support the French with systems to counter potential drone attacks.

Paris’s criminal courts are gearing up for the expected rise in crime, with three hearings per day to fast-track trials for offenders. “Imagine a Brazilian who has their bag stolen by an Italian. There is no question of summoning the parties [for trial] several months later. It would not make any sense. Besides, we don’t want to clog up the judicial system,” Beccuau stressed. Additional judges from the Paris Appeal Court will be brought in to manage the increased caseload.

Regarding cyber threats, Beccuau acknowledged: “We are certain there will be [such attacks],” noting that past Olympics have been targeted by hackers. Experts warn that these attacks could range from Russian attempts to destabilise the West to criminal gangs extorting money.

This comprehensive security approach aims to ensure the safety of the millions of visitors expected in Paris for the highly anticipated global event.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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