• Sat
  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 4:49pm

Robberies of cashed-up Chinese tourists rise steeply in Paris

Mainlanders' preference for carrying large amounts of cash makes them easy targets

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 9:00am

A sharp increase in robberies of Chinese tourists in Paris has prompted calls for the French government to step up security and for shoppers to use credit cards instead of carrying large amounts of cash.

The number of reports of such crimes is up by "more than 10 per cent" since last year, said Li Ping , head of consular affairs at the Chinese embassy in Paris.

Two cases this week grabbed headlines. On Tuesday, a crew of China Central Television reporters covering the French Open tennis tournament had their car windows smashed and their wallets, phones and passports grabbed, mainland media reported. A source familiar with the situation confirmed the incident to the South China Morning Post.

A day earlier, film producer Dong Dake , returning from the Cannes Film Festival, was robbed at his hotel in Paris. He was said to have lost equipment worth about 200,000 yuan (HK$250,000) and "countless photos" taken at private parties.

The Chinese embassy in Paris said they were not isolated cases.

"We have made representations to the French government," Li said. "We hope the French side will take proper measures to protect the safety of tourists and curb illegal behaviour."

France, battling with unemployment and an economic downturn, has witnessed a surge in crime. French newspaper Le Figaro reported that the number of reported thefts in January had risen 50 per cent year on year, while burglaries had jumped by nearly 60 per cent.

Tour operators in both China and Paris said Asian tourists, particularly Chinese, had become vulnerable in recent years because of their free-spending shopping habits. More than a million Chinese visit France every year, with each one spending about €1,500 (HK$15,000) on average.

A busload of Chinese tourists is like a van carrying gold bullion
Li Lang, marketing manager of Guangzhou-based travel agency

"There are reports of tourists getting robbed almost every day," said Jean-Francois Zhou, manager of Paris-based Ansel Travel, which specialises in tours to and from China. "The criminals are not just stealing, but resorting to violent means."

Ten of his Chinese clients were robbed in October in the Louvre Museum. On many occasions, tour guides, who possessed cash for emergency use, were targeted, losing up to €20,000 each time, he said.

Li Lang, marketing manager of a Guangzhou-based travel agency, said Chinese tourists' preference for buying luxury items in cash was a reason behind the attacks. "A busload of Chinese tourists is like a van carrying gold bullion," he said. Several travel agencies had put up a blacklist of drivers and hotels suspected of being connected with criminals, Li said.

A Singaporean tourist, who did not want to be named, recalled the terror as she and her sister were robbed inside a taxi taking them from the airport to a hotel in the heart of the city on May 13.

"Two men suddenly came up, smashed the car windows and snatched our bags. We were bleeding," she said. There was further frustration when they had to spend more than three hours filing a report at a police station.

"The French police did not speak English and offered no help," she said. "They just asked us to go to the police station in the damaged taxi, even though we were hurt and bleeding."

Liu Simin , a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, urged tourists to be more alert about personal safety and to carry less cash.

The French embassy in Beijing said the French government was determined to ensure the safety of all foreign tourists.

"The vast majority of Chinese visitors' trips go on without trouble," the embassy said.

The Hong Kong Immigration Department said the number of cases of Hong Kong people seeking assistance while travelling in France had risen from 57 in 2011 to 85 last year. Most of them had lost travel documents, been involved in traffic accidents, or been admitted to hospital.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the Hong Kong Travel Industry Council, said tourists should wear fewer designer brand products when travelling in Europe.

Additional reporting by Choi Chi-yuk, Johnny Tam and Keith Zhai


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This article is now closed to comments

Clearly if total robberies are up 50% and crime against Chinese nationals is up 10% then it is obvious that Chinese are being specifically targeted! Genius reporting!
This article has a ring of a globalized Robin Hood about it. The Chinese rich and uncouth enough to travel abroad and wear a mish-mash of designer clothes, handbags, and twinkles (all at once) got their money mostly from ill-gotten means. So, the poor thugs in France mug them for being the boullion on legs which they dress themselves up to be. The money flows down to the slums of Paris. It doesn't help the nice, innocent Chinese villagers, but it sure would warm their hearts if they were to be told this is happening. Haha, "tour guides, who possessed cash for emergency use, were targeted, losing up to €20,000 each time"? That must be an insurance limit, to be so precisely robbed each time.
I was robbed in Metro Opera station en route to see a friend, five men came up to me all of a sudden just when I entered the metro train, each of them reached into my pockets and took off as the train's door was about to close...It is not fair to describe the problem as Asians carrying too much cash...it is borderline with racial profiling by the thieves.
Beside Paris, there are lot of fabulous cities in Europe, Chinese should consider skipping Paris until the French government is serious about cracking down on the crime instead of talking about it. Where is the liberty, solidarity and fraternity and the basic human rights of not to be robbed while having a holiday. It is high time for the French police to be serious about protecting the tourists human right. While the cash may be gone, what about our human dignity--that Parisians watch as some Asians are being robbed at this very moment. I read the comment with incredulity--its all about the victims carrying cash. Not one comment take the authority to task. Where is the law and order of any basic civilized society. The problem is so bad that the staffs of Louvre were on strike of being harassed going to work. Until the economic backlash hits the mandarin, nothing will be done. The chinese embassy's representation to the government seems just talk. alas! The embassy could advise the Chinese tourist industry to avoid Paris until the situation is rectified. Vote with your pocketbook.
I was robbed in Paris before and the suspect was Arab....so what? I got basically no help either. It happenes. Probobaly being boiterous loud mouths and drawing lots of attendtion to yourself does not help.
Maybe the problem is also that when the Chinese travel abroad, they treat all places like their home.........they should probably be more alert and not expect the rest of the world to be like China.
This is not new. My wife and daughter were robbed in the Paris airport many years ago, losing passports, tickets, credit cards. That all despite the airport being "under surveillance". The police does not seem to help at all. The crime situation in many European cities has become terrible, result very often of the influx of immigrants and rising poverty. Europe is as such in decline. Other countries are not that better: Italy has a bad name too (e.g. Rome), pretty bad are also Barcelona and Madrid. In this sense, Beijing is still very secure. I was with my Chinese bosses in Zurich airport before the 2008 Olympics where we were also robbed in full view, at the check-in counter. Police was friendly but again, where were the security cameras and records?
"Robbed?" Like physically ripped away from you or the threat of harm caused you to give up your goods? Or did you mean steal, where someone picks your pocket or stole your handbag by stealth? Robbed in full view at the check in counter? Did the ticket agent call for help when they saw a customer being robbed in full view? I find your story unbelievable.
Well, if you have been robbed also in Zurich i think you really need to revise a couple of things when you travel abroad.
Certain ladies please note: It is the absolute right of every tourist to enjoy his wealth, present him/herself to attract attention, even envy, show how much money he/she has, even show-off occasionally in ways some people consider obscene - and it is the absolute job of society in general, and the police in particular to protect him/her from any harm. Asking tourists to do the obvious: Not to carry too much cash and jewelry, not to show your money, avoid places where pick-pockets hang out etec. etc is blaming the victim for the robbery!
The advice to tourists has nothing to do with blame or rights, it is simply common sense.
There was a rape version of that in the news right? Slutwalk, victims are asking to be raped because they're revealing....
I suggest Chinese tourists behave better abroad and take pride in representing their country. Then the locals in foreign countries might be more sympathetic. If I was a French policeman (which I am not) I would think twice about helping a rude arrogant stranger who only has (dirty?) cash rather than my struggling countryman whose job has been taken away by said arrogant stranger.
I also suggest all tourists including Chinese to take the time and trouble to learn, respect and experience the culture and language of foreign countries. They will find they enjoy their trip much more and also leave a good impression with the locals that will benefit the next tourist.
So a police force should be selective to whom they should help or not and condone to theft.
Jobs taken away by Chinese? show me the proof, manufacturing jobs in Paris? Ed_Kwok you truly are a shameful being much more shameful than those mainland Chinese whom you seem to love to step on so much, perhaps you are trying to justify your pathethic existence by joining those worthless foreign loosers who constantly claims that China or the developing world "stole" their jobs when in reality its their uncompetitiveness, laziness and ridiculous social benefit programs promised by long gone or dead politicians to win votes that cost them their jobs.
Please tell me you are a ignorant beyond hope fool educated from the West & not in HK, there are too many example or garbage like yourself being produce with our "world class" education system, whom with such twisted logic have only truly brought HK to such low level.
BTW hopefully will there be no policemen like you, but unfortunately there are only too many espicially in China & developing countires, you are a perfect GONG AN, its not the law you protected its well who I feel I should help or not.
That is a good lesson for those people having load of cash coming from unnamed way. Hope they learn not to show off with wads of cash.
And come on, 20k euros of cash for emergency ... this is a neat way to call your dirty cash.
Hope that Dong's "countless photos" taken at private parties were not private parties much appreciated by government officials.
But sorry to hear side effect of asian people being aimed as mainland chinese.
And most of above comments are quite stereotyped, but hey, hard to not vent like this when seeing such news.
Alternative headline:
Go back 20 years and how many Chinese tourists were there in Paris each year? So how many robberies of Chinese tourists 20 years ago? Both numbers would have been very low but the proportion of Chinese tourists to Chinese tourists being robbed may have been exactly the same then as now.
The only meaningful stats presented in the article are that reported thefts had risen 50% across the whole of Parisian society. If say 1% of 100 tourists visiting Paris are robbed then the number robbed is 1. If 1% of 1,000 tourists visiting Paris are robbed then the number robbed becomes 10. So sure, the numbers have gone up with the increase in Chinese tourism overseas, but the numbers indicate little evidence that the Chinese in particular are being targeted.
Come to Italy, such things will not happen.
Not by Italians, true, but you may get accosted and robebd by Romansian Gypseys.
Nor in Britain :) Some of the UK Police speak English and they only take two hours to fill in the forms.
Wear less designer brands, carry less cash??? Most would rather be robbed. Credit cards would help but that would mean you would have to declare the income in PRC.
Problems, problems, problems.....


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