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Courtney Traub

Paris Thieves Targeting Jewelry and Precious Metals

By December 11, 2012

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A grim-- and decidedly bizarre-- recent story from UK paper The Daily Telegraph reports that street muggings and graveyard robberies are on a steep rise in Paris, as prices and demand soar for precious metals.

Daily Telegraph reporter Henry Samuel said the city has seen a worrying series of muggings directed at workers or owners at precious metal foundries, including the fatal shooting of a 52-year old worker who tried to stop thieves from taking gold from a foundry in the posh Marais district.

Still more bizarre was the discovery of dozens of exhumed and pillaged bodies from the Pantin cemetery, located just north of the city limits. Gold teeth and jewelry were taken from the bodies, according to Samuel, and three municipal gravediggers were arrested as suspects in the robberies. As a result, Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë has stepped up surveillance in the city's cemeteries, including at tourist-heavy Père-Lachaise.

The question many of you are probably asking is "Are tourists in greater danger of getting mugged in the current climate?" While thieves have generally been targeting precious metal manufacturers and other sources that would provide the goods in larger quantities, it's probably a good idea, as always, to stay vigilant in crowded places or on very quiet streets. See our guide to avoiding pickpockets in Paris for some solid tips on staying safe while traveling in the metro or other crowded areas, and use your common sense when out and about. You should leave most of your valuables in a safe at the hotel, rather than carrying them around with you.

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't wear jewelry out to a nice dinner in Paris, and I don't have any solid evidence suggesting that thieves are targeting individuals in greater numbers, but for safety's sake, wearing your valuables discreetly is likely a good strategy.

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