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City thieves are up to new and old tricks

National and local police are warning that thieves in Cuenca have introduced new strategies to separate victims from their money. Although they say most of the new tricks do not involve physical assault, the threat of violence always exists during robberies.

Thieves with a pit bull were arrested Friday on Calle Antonio Farfán. (El Tiempo)

Three cases have been reported in which thieves use dogs to intimidate victims. “They release a large dog that approaches the victim in a menacing manner and then appear to come to the victim’s rescue,” says Wilson Ortega of the Cuenca Citizen Guard. “In the recent cases, the dog jumps on the victim but does not bite and when the thieves pull the dog back and begin to clean the victim’s clothing they steal his money and belongings.”

An arrest was made in one dog attack case on Calle Antonio Farfán but police believe at least one more group of thieves and their dog remains at large.

Another trick reported in several recent weeks involves a large amount of cash left beside a sidewalk, usually in a secluded area. The thieves position the cash, usually $100 counterfeit bills, in an easily visible spot and when the victim stops to pick it up they emerge from hiding places to say they had already seen it. According to police, the thieves then agree to split the money with the victim in exchange for some “good faith money,” telling the victim she is getting many times more than she is sharing with the thieves.

Police have also received several reports of what is commonly known as the “mustard trick” in recent weeks. In these cases, an unknowns substance –  usually pigeon poop, mud, mayonnaise or mustard — is thrown onto the victim, often from an overhanging balcony, and when the thieves appear to clean the victim they also clean him of his wallet, cameras and bags.

Police encourage victims to report all crimes, saying that the majority go unreported, making apprehension of criminals more difficult.

15 thoughts on “City thieves are up to new and old tricks

  1. Friends were also recently drugged and robbed by friendly strangers. The strangers started a conversation, they went for drinks, the drinks were drugged, they went back to the friends’ home to “help” them get in and settled, and the robbery happened. They also tried for the ATM but that was unsuccessful. No violence thankfully.

  2. Tuesday I was finishing up an afternoon walk along Antonio Vega Muñoz between Padre Aguirre and Presidente Borrero when suddenly I was accosted by three aggressive, barking dogs, all large.

    The first dog passed me but the other two came at me. They got really close. still barking until I nailed both of them with pepper spray, which did the trick. I caught up with the first dog and challenged it by stamping my foot, but by then it had apparently forgotten who I was, and just kept running on ahead.

    I did notice two or three guys down the street in the direction I had come from, and about 50 feet away, but I can’t say that they were up to anything. They seemed to be just watching. But you never know.

    Acción Sports on Simón Bolivar has pepper spray (“aerosol de pimienta”). And a Facebook page for those who do that. Address: CALLE BOLÍVAR 1270 Y JUAN MONTALVO, 099 882 1582

  3. ” Police encourage victims to report all crimes, saying that the majority go unreported, making apprehension of criminals more difficult ”
    And if you report them, nothing happens anyway.
    One month ago I was robbed my engagement ring by the river, while I was running. I made the denounce at the Fiscalia, they told me, they will call me again to proceed with this case. Never received such phone call or anything.
    A few days later, I saw the guy who robbed me, again…in Calle Larga this time. What should I do then?? A friend suggested to go with the Police again, and ask them to arrest him, but, under what charges??? Obviously, he doesn’t have my ring now, and obviously he doesn’t remember me. So, my question is, should I go and confront him?? Pay somebody to go see him?? Go to the Police again, and say, he is the guy who stole my ring?? Yeah, like that’s gonna work…so, my answer is simple, just let it go. I live here, and I will probably see him again, and obviously, I don’t want to get involved in his business, so, the best is just seat and watch. Perhaps one day, he will get what he deserves.

    1. I was pickpocked two years ago. I called the police. They said I would have to report in person to a certain police station. They didn’t seem interested at all.

      1. Other than take your report what would you have liked them to do? All valuables go inside your FRONT pockets. If this had taken place in the USA I can assure you all they would have done is to scratch out a 15 minute report and entered it as a stat.

    1. Amen
      EC allowed “un” or “under” documented Venezuelans into the Country. Once here, EC restricts their ability to work and live because the documents they entered with won’t meet current visa requirements. With no money or ability to get the correct paperwork from their homeland, they are stuck in limbo. I’m not saying this situation is the root cause of the increased crime, but desperate people will do desperate things. EC made decisions that affect the entire population and now they need to step up with workable solutions so these people can assimilate successfully. If not, expect life to get a lot more complicated.

  4. Yet another, perhaps not new. As I arrived near bus exit I heard coins drop – quite noisy on metal floor. One of several passengers near exit picks them up and, as I carried a bag, “helpfully” dropped coins in my bag. This person, male ~40, looked like any person in working clothes heading home after a day’s work. This “ladron” stated in Spanish that I must have a hole in my pocket and I again heard coins drop. I had just visited phone store and absent-mindedly had cell in opposite side pocket (which was a 1 in 1000 chance for thieves). The moment I stepped off bus it occurred that phone was missing. Hint: in exiting I had to “brush” between the “helper” and one other. Likely the “tag team” did not exit, though the light switched red. The driver allowed me to re-enter though by the time i fought my way through crowded bus there was no-one near the rear door except passengers, who “sheepishly” avoided my eye and ignored my angry protest. Fortunately I was soon to the US where I inexpensively replaced my highly functional, though dated phone. (PS, I actually wound up with $1 in real coins in my bag!). Murphy in Ecuador: if it CAN be stolen, it WILL be stolen. In truth, however, Ecuadorians far more often offer genuine helpfulness, including assistance staying safe & secure.

  5. I’m a Gringo in Nevada USA strongly considering a move to either Cuenca or Lake Chapala in Mexico. It is illegal for anyone who is not a Mexican citizen or a Philippine citizen to own or carry a gun in those Countries. Can you tell me what the law is in Ecuador? Can a foreigner bring a gun into Cuenca, or buy one there? Is it illegal for a foreigner and/or a local to carry a gun in Cuenca? I already ruled out the Philippines as a retirement spot because I don’t want to be the only guy in a bar who is not packing. It is legal in both Mexico and the Philippines to own a gun, if you are a citizen. Given that Mexico had 37 million homicides last year, and the Philippines now has a vigilante culture, safety is certainly a relevant consideration for anyone thinking of moving to either Country. Kidnapping is apparently also on the rise in Mexico, even in Lake Chapala which is not on a drug route and has a large Gringo population, and formerly was considered a relatively safe spot for pasty-skin retirees.)

    1. Guns are out here in Ecuador. From time to time you hear of a robbery committed with a gun but it is rare and I think that often the “gun” is a fake.

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