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Paris pickpocket gang members placed in custody

Eight Romanians suspected of pick pocketing around the Eiffel Tower have been placed in custody. REUTERS

Eight Romanians, suspected of pick pocketing around the Eiffel Tower and the Versailles palace, have been placed in custody after being formally charged.

According to a judicial source, the perpetrators, who were aged between 17 and 47 years, were indicted for theft and fraud by organised gangs and criminal conspiracy.

They were arrested on Thursday, a week after the Eiffel Tower staff protested against the rise of pick pocketing incidents around the iconic monument. The protest forced the closure of the Eiffel Tower for a few hours.

The eight were arrested from two hotels located in Issy-les-Moulineaux and Meudon in the Paris region.

Luxury clothing and accessories, entrance tickets and audio guides to the Eiffel Tower & the Versailles palace plus 3,000 euros in cash were also seized by the police.

According to a police source, the thieves would disguise themselves as tourists and divide themselves into teams of three or four. One of the accomplices would distract a tourist whose valuables would get stolen by others in the group.

The Eiffel Tower attracts more than 7 million visitors each year, of which about 75 per cent are foreigners.

The Versailles palace too drew an impressive 7.5 million visitors in 2013.

Around 26,000 police personnel are to be deployed this summer around ten iconic monuments in Paris to curb the menace of pickpocketing.