Here's a disturbing story from Paris, especially for art lovers: The Guardian is reporting that the Louvre, the world's most-visited museum, was forced to close early on Wednesday after workers staged a walkout in protest over pickpockets.
More than 100 staff stopped work to protest raids by organized gangs which, they said, were growing in number and becoming "more aggressive," targeting both visitors and staff in the iconic museum's enormous galleries. A union official said the gangs had become increasingly aggressive and included minors who could access the museum for free. Some staff members complained of being spat at, insulted, threatened or kicked, saying thieves had become more violent.
The Louvre, which had 10 million visitors last year, would normally draw 30,000 a day at this time of year to see works including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Tourists gathered outside the museum on Wednesday yesterday afternoon. Some complained of feeling "cheated" by the walkout and subsequent closure.
The museum acknowledged in a statement that pickpocketing was a growing problem despite measures taken last year, including tighter cooperation with the police and temporary bans on people already identified as pickpockets from re-entering the museum. Late last year, the Louvre filed an official complaint to the state prosecutor over visitors falling victim to the thieves.
Fortunately, the museum is expected to reopen as normal tomorrow.