Lourdes, France, Oct 26, 2019 / 14:33 pm
As reports of theft are on the rise at a famous Marian shrine in France, Lourdes authorities have increased security and encouraged pilgrims to be more aware of their belongings.
Pierre Aurignac, a local prosecutor, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the town has had a "statistical explosion" of pickpocketing. So far this year, he said, there have been 274 accounts of pickpocketing, whereas 117 incidents were recorded during the first nine months of 2018.
Most reported robberies occur in the streets near the shrine, where religious shops sell items such as rosaries, icons, statues, and Lourdes water.
"The pickpockets are highly organised professionals," said Philippe Subercaze, a city official in charge of security.