Paris Police Are Warning Tourists About Gangs of Hotel Thieves
Tourists in Paris are frequently told to stay on their guard against various scams in the streets of the city — pickpockets, bag snatchers and people with fake petitions abound across the City of Light.
Now, Paris police officers are also warning tourists that thieves are targeting travelers not just in the streets, but also behind the closed doors of their hotel rooms. Gangs of thieves, dubbed "hotel rats" by French authorities, slip into hotels and blend in with guests to steal their belongings.
“Some of them join a group of tourists and leave with their luggage. Then there are those who reserve rooms under a fake name and go around rooms looking for safes,” Tony Mariet, an inspector with the Paris police, told Le Parisien. “We are dealing with international professional criminals.”
The hotel thieves mainly target the popular hotel district in Paris' 8th arrondissement, nicknamed the Golden Triangle. But any hotel in the city can be a target.
“They go to the big hotels in Paris, but also in neighboring towns like Courbevoie or Vincennes where tourists are also found," Mariet explains.
The thieves work in teams, Mariet says, and can also be burglars. “They just raid through Paris for some months and then they leave for other capital like Rome,” he says.
Paris hotel receptionists are extremely familiar with the groups of so-called "hotel rats," and they say it is nearly impossible to combat them. "This happens everyday," one receptionist told Le Parisien.
Another receptionist said that some of the thieves know how to pick hotel rooms' electronic locks. “In a hotel I used to work we only had rooms with magnetic locks” Stephan, an employee for Hôtel Élysées Etoile, says. "There was a small team who disassembled some of the locks without ever being found. They knew where each security cam was,” he says.
Although the gangs of thieves are difficult to catch, Mariet says that the authorities do their best to track them down. “We work together very closely with the hotels," he says. "We cross check info from them and draw portraits base on that.”
Earlier this summer, Paris announced it would be deploying 5,000 extra police officers in the streets of Paris to help protect tourists from various scams.
Officials say the police team dedicated to hotel thefts in Paris questions about one gang of "hotel rats" each month.