Ariane Vandals Wish their Neighbors a Happy New Year… By Burning their Cars

On New Year’s Eve, while corks were a-popping up and down the Cote d’Azur, a very different tradition was being played out in low-income suburbs all over France… the annual lighting of your neighbor’s car on fire.  It’s customary in the banlieues, that on New Year’s Eve, bands of vandals run wild and burn cars as an expression of their anger against the establishment.  Nice has three of these crime-ridden, so called ‘hot zones’, on the far outskirts of city, and a New Year’s Day drive through the Ariane saw enough burned-out hulks to testify to a wild night.  The government maintains that the number of burnt cars is sharply down from last year’s ‘festivities’, but they have curiously refused to release the figures.

It would be a tragedy for anyone to find their car burned up, but even more tragic for the car owners in the Ariane, who usually work for low wages, scrimped for years to buy that car, and many don’t have the money for insurance.

This uniquely French ‘tradition’ started in the Strasbourg suburbs in the ’90’s and quickly became ‘de rigueur’ in ghettos all over France.  The ‘lighting of the cars’ is not limited to just New Year’s Eve but is practiced on other ‘special’ days throughout the year as well.  In 2010, a staggering 42,000 cars were torched in France, but the Cote d’Azur is just a small portion of that, so not to worry.  …That is, unless you are spending a holiday with friends in the low-income suburbs!

Sources:  Nice-Matin, L’Express

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Crime in Nice: Really Bad Karma

As if the ordinary juvenile delinquents on the Cote d’Azur were not enough, during the holidays we also get the big-city kind that come here for their vacation.   One such 17-year-old Parisian, here for the holidays to visit his girlfriend, decided the night after Christmas to hang out at the St-Laurent train station to find someone to rob.   When the last train pulled in, he jumped on board and spotted his prey, maced him, grabbed his bag, and jumped off the train just as it started to leave.   But unbeknownst to the young Parisian, under the victim’s coat and scarf… were a collar and priest robes:  he had just maced and robbed a priest on a Sunday, stole money from a mass, and all of this on the day after Christmas.   It’s unclear whether it was luck or divine intervention, but the vacationing thief was arrested the next day, the stolen goods including the mass money were recovered, and the priest was unharmed.  I’d say a few Hail Mary’s if I was that kid!

Source: Nice-Matin

Photo credit: Rubies Co. Haunted House Collection

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Petition Scam: Sign the Petition, Lose your Wallet

Have you noticed the clean, nicely dressed kids, politely but silently pushing a petition at you?   It’s for a supposed deaf-mute center, but they get a lot more than a signature.

Posing as earnest deaf-mutes, they are actually… Romanian pickpocket prodigies.  They start with getting a signature, then maybe a donation of a few euros, and then, so moved by your generosity, the adorable mute girl gives you a hug… and somewhere in this whole business your wallet disappears.   The police have picked up this brother-sister team several times, but because they are minors, of course they get released immediately and back they go to do it again.  They’ve been seen in Nice, Vence, Cagnes-sur-Mer, and this week they’re working the Petition Scam in Antibes.

Source: Nice-Matin, Nice-Matin

See related post on the Ring Scam, and related page on How to avoid getting pickpocketed, purse snatched or scammed

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Nice Dog Poop Almost Kills Baby

In case you missed it, a scene worthy of Benny Hill spooled out last month at the Port…

Anne-Marie, with her 6-month-old grandchild Zoe in a stroller and her dog on a leash, was taking an afternoon walk by the harbor.   As is (thankfully) becoming increasingly common in Nice, when her little dog made a deposit, she bent over to pick it up.   But as this gesture is a relatively new thing here in Nice, she apparently didn’t quite have the system down, and let go of the stroller to use both hands.    A second later, when she turned back around, the stroller was… gone.   The baby, meanwhile, was calmly rolling down the slope, picking up speed, and heading straight for the drink.   Reaching the edge, the cannonball stroller launched off the quai and went in with a splash…  But as quick as a flash, our hero Bruno Livet, 32, dove off the yacht Sirus, fully clothed, and saved the day.

Baby Zoe was unharmed but will probably now grow up to be a racecar driver.

Source: Nice-Matin

Photo credit

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