This summer, pickpocketing inside the Louvre Museum in Paris has reached epidemic proportions, with visitors to the "La Gioconda" (The Mona Lisa) as the most popular targets.
In recent months, pickpockets have moved away from preying on museum visitors waiting to enter the museum and begun to purchase their own museum tickets and pickpocket inside the museum itself.
The majority of the museum's 40.000 daily summer visitors come to the Louvre expressly to see "La Gioconda", and by mid-morning the crowd waiting to glimpse the painting is already 12 rows deep, with 70 more people flowing into the viewing hall every minute.
"La Gioconda" hangs in a climate-controlled container of bullet-proof glass, and visitors must jostle in a roped-off area nearly seven meters away to see the painting. During the average 15 uninterrupted seconds visitors have to see the painting from the closest viewing point, their concentration on examining Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece create a prime atmosphere for pickpockets.
On the 12th of July alone, 56 stolen wallets were found hidden inside the museum. The museum has increased the presence of security personal in key rooms in an effort to combat the pickpocketing epidemic.