Crime rate holds steady in Cuenca despite public perception that it is rising

Nov 18, 2021 | 8 comments

In the public perception crime is increasing rapidly in Cuenca, according to Citizen Security Council Director Froilán Salinas. “In fact, this is incorrect and the facts don’t support it,” he says.

Despite public opinion that the crime rate is rising in Cuenca, officials say it is in fact holding steady.

“Reviewing crime data from 2018 to the present, rates have held very steady and Cuenca continues to be one of the safest cities, not only in Ecuador but in South America,” Salinas says. “There was a temporary drop in crime following the pandemic lockdowns and those have risen as health conditions improved but rates have stabilized.”

Salinas says that public opinion about increasing crime has been shaped by recent prison riots and the surge of murders in Guayaquil, Manta and other coastal cities. “People see the news and see the bodies and think this is happening all over the country while, in fact, it is occurring in the area near the ocean and seaports.”

Citizen Security Council Director Froilán Salinas

The biggest factor driving the misconception about crime, Salinas believes, is social media. “Instead of getting information from reliable sources, people now share stories on social media and communications apps. Stories and videos are posted and reposted and are read by large numbers of people and misinformation spreads rapidly.”

The prevalence of video is another contributor, he says. “There are security cameras everywhere these days, in businesses and in homes, not to mention on our cell phones, and although these are very helpful in stopping crime they can also be misinterpreted.”

Salinas said he and several National Police personnel recently reviewed videos shared on social media claiming to show criminal activity in Cuenca. “What we found was that almost half of them were from other cities but, as they were passed around, people believed they were local.”

In the case of recent complaints of robberies of taxi drivers, Salinas said there have been no more reports of taxi crime filed with police than at any other time in recent years. “The police tell me that some taxi drivers claim they were robbed at gunpoint when, in fact, they were mad at a passenger who refused to pay.”

Salinas says the top category of violent crime in Cuenca continues to be domestic violence. “This has been the situation for many years and police respond to these cases more than any others,” he says. “We have experienced a small increase in home burglaries and personal robberies and we are working with neighborhood safety councils in response to this.”

Violent crime remains low in Cuenca, Salinas says. “We continue to rank in the top ten countries in Latin America for the lowest murder rate for cities with populations above 500,000. We rate low for all violent crime, especially crimes involving weapons.”

He adds that unreported crime is a problem. “It has always been the case that citizens do not report some criminal activity and we encourage them to go to police when they are victims.”


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