Tuesday, July 2, 2013

France: Armed Bogus Cops in Paris Rob Saudi Official of 200,000 Euros Near Le Bourget Airport

According to The Telegraph and AFP, a well-planned, organized and creative armed robbery of a Saudi official assigned to the sports ministry (near the A1 highway at Le Bourget Airport), of 200,000 euros (US$261,000) within minutes after he arrived in Paris will hardly calm nervous tourists concerned with a crime spike in the French capital. The robbery occurred on July 1.

The gunmen were armed and used two vehicles resembling police vehicles equipped with flashing lights and the word "Police" on them and stopped the Saudi official on the pretense of a "traffic stop," whereby they ordered him to inspect the trunk of his vehicle.

Suddenly, a "traffic stop" turned into an armed robbery whereby the assailants confiscated  a suitcase containing 162,000 euros, US$30,000 and £10,000. 

COMMENT: It was not immediately clear as to why the unidentified Saudi official was traveling with such a huge amount of cash, did not declare the currency upon entry into France or why he failed to arrange for armed escort of the cash if he had diplomatic immunity.

It is unknown as to whether the gunmen were French or another nationality.

Given the planning that went into the charade and deception, and the timing involved, one can only surmise that the  gunmen knew in advance that the Saudi official was arriving at the airport at that particular time. If that was not the case, they were indeed fortuitous and had incredibly good karma. 

In March, a group of 23 Chinese tourists were robbed en-mass in a restaurant shortly after landing in Paris. Their 12-day trip across Europe got off to a distasteful beginning when they stopped for dinner at Le Bourget, to the north of Paris in the Seine-Saint-Denis area. As the group was leaving the restaurant, three gunmen robbed them of their passports and 7,500 euros (US$10,000).

It may not be coincidental that both the Chinese robbery and that of the Saudi official occurred near Le Bourget.

All tourists and travelers to France are urged to be cautious and careful when traveling to France, and much of Europe for that matter, by having a healthy suspicious nature of strangers, circumstances that are abnormal and a strong sense of personal security awareness.

Although economic crime has always been problematic in France in the past,  increasingly assailants and robbers are increasingly armed, which is why I strongly discourage any traveler from carrying much more than 150 euros.

Additionally, I urge all travelers to consult their appropriate foreign affairs agency online in order to determine the criminal threats that exist abroad and register their travel itinerary if such a service is available.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.