Robberies of Chinese and Japanese tourists in Paris decreased significantly in the first nine months of this year, the police in Paris said on Wednesday.
"Robberies committed against Chinese tourists have dropped 25 per cent in the first nine months this year, illustrating the decline in this type of crime even though the number of visitors from China has increased by 50 per cent for the last three years," the police department said.
Last year, for the first time, Chinese nationals surpassed Japanese as the largest group of Asian tourists visiting Paris. About 880,000 Chinese tourists visited Paris last year, almost double the figure from the previous year, according to the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Although more than 10 million overseas tourists visit Paris every year, cash-carrying, unguarded Chinese tourists are especially easy targets for pickpockets, and even for violent crimes such as robbery and rape.
Many tourists, especially those from Asia, get "Paris syndrome", a sort of culture shock phenomenon: They arrive in Paris expecting a friendly, quaint European capital as seen in movies and are horrified when confronted with the reality of rude French service and ubiquitous thieves.
Christophe Soullez, a criminologist and director of the French National Supervisory Body on Crime and Punishment, said that it is true that Chinese and Japanese tourists are targeted more than other nationalities.
He believed that a different security environment results in the phenomenon.
"Chinese tourists are sometimes naive and can easily be trapped because they are not used to being confronted by villainous crime," he said. "In China, Japan and other Asian countries, pickpocketing, theft by deception and robbery hardly exist."
In order to curb crimes targeting tourists, the police launched an action plan with 26 measures to protect them this year. Patrols were increased and more officers sent to popular tourist sites such as the Louvre, Montmartre, Notre Dame and the Champs-Elysees.
The measures produced "tangible results". The bureau saw a drop of more than 13 per cent of robberies recorded in the Louvre, and the Champs-Elysees area had a decrease of more than 24 per cent of robberies and nearly 22 per cent of intentional injury.
The police department's Chinese web page also has provided many crime-prevention tips, as well as the location of police stations and how to report a crime.
In the future, the police said, the city's security will be further strengthened through continued partnership actions taken with Asian embassies such as China's and Japan's.