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Pickpockets force Paris' Louvre to close

The closure came after staff went on strike over the rising number of organized gangs who target tourists and museum employees.

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About 10 million people visited the Louvre last year. (AFP/Getty Images)

The most visited museum in the world, the Louvre in Paris, was forced to close Wednesday after staff walked off the job in protest against rising crime.

The Guardian reported more than 100 staff stopped work Wednesday due to concerns over the "increasingly aggressive" gangs of thieves and pickpockets who target not just tourists visiting the museum but employees. 

The museum was set to reopen on Thursday. No closure is currently reflected on the Louvre website, which lists normal hours of operation

Christelle Guyader, a spokesperson for French trade union Solidaires Unitaires Démocratiques (SUD), said staff feared for their safety and were frustrated at the lack of action to stop them, the London Telegraph reported. 

Guyader said many of the thieves are children who get into the museum for free and then start asking people for money.

“The children are tough and very well organized,” one staffer told the Telegraph. “They stop at nothing to get what they want, and work in gangs."

According to SUD, the Louvre has become a favorite hunting ground for the gangs. Due to their age, arrests of the children are minimal. Many simply return the following day to continue their thieving.

There have also been reports of pickpockets spitting upong, insulting, threatening and kicking their targets.

The Louvre, home to famous works from masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, is the most visited museum in the world with about 10 million visitors last year, CNN reported.

The museum has acknowledged that pickpocketing is a growing problem despite efforts to curb its prevalence, the Guardian reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/130411/pickpockets-force-paris-louvre-close