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CRIME

Public in Dordogne warned after fake French gendarmes rob residents

Criminals dressed in gendarme uniforms have been robbing people's houses in the Dordogne, southwest France. The authorities have urged members of the public to be cautious. Here's what you need to know.

Criminals have been usurping the identity of gendarmes
Criminals have been usurping the identity of gendarmes in the Dordogne, southwest France (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

A group of fake gendarmes in the Dordogne département have been robbing residents. 

Their modus operandi is as follows: they arrive at the front door dressed in official gendarme uniforms and ask to see where the household valuables are stashed. They then grab the goods and rush away. 

It is hardly like a sophisticated scene from Lupin but a number of people have understandably fallen victim to the crime, swayed by the uniform.

The Gendarmerie de la Dordogne have urged caution and recommend the following steps to avoid being robbed in such circumstances:

  • Never let any unknown individual enter your home
  • Install a peep-hole in your door or install a chain lock
  • Ask to see the professional ID card of the officer or a mission letter. 

They have posted an example ID card on their Facebook page. 

A French Gendarme's professional ID card

This is what a French Gendarme’s ID card looks like. (Source: Gendarmerie de la Dordogne)

The card should also show the face of the officer – in the space covered by the thumb in the picture above. 

If you are still in doubt, you can ring the number 17 from any mobile phone in France to verify that an officer has indeed been sent to you address. 

A gendarme will not ask to enter your home except in the case that they are carrying a warrant or acting as part of an enquête judiciaire – you have the right to be informed if such an investigation has been launched against you. 

Outside of these cases, the gendarme should be able to ask you for any necessary information at the door. 

The recent spate of thefts committed by people pretending to be gendarmes is nothing new in France. 

In 2019, the Gendarmerie of Nièvre in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region arrested someone accused of impersonating a gendarme and found in possession of official clothing. 

The Gendarmerie Nationale is technically part of the French armed forces, but carries out considerable domestic law enforcement alongside the Police Nationale. 

Those currently robbing people in the Dordogne are taking significant risks. Impersonating a law enforcement officer in France can result in a three year prison sentence and €45,000 fine. 

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POLICE

Parents and child drown after freak wave hits French coast

Two parents and their child died in western France after a powerful wave swept them out to sea as they were fishing on a dyke in Brittany, authorities said on Friday.

Parents and child drown after freak wave hits French coast

The 55-year-old father and 33-year-old mother were pulled out of the water early Thursday evening in the western town of Plogoff in cardiac arrest but rescuers were unable to resuscitate them.

The body of the 12-year-old child was found later in the evening.

Three other children of the family, aged 13 to 15, were not on the dyke and survived the surprise wave but were in shock and being treated by psychological services.

There were strong waves at the time but the weather conditions were not stormy, a spokesperson for maritime officials said.

Witnesses immediately called rescuers who dispatched paramedics and three helicopters to search for the victims, who lived in the nearby town of Audierne.

“There are circumstances that make the coast dangerous around here. I’m warning people, you have to be extremely careful,” Plogoff Mayor Joel Yvenou told the local Telegramme newspaper.

“It’s terrible, the season hasn’t begun yet and there are already victims,” he added.

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