Depending on year-end crime statistics for several cities in Uruguay and Argentina, Cuenca could lead all Latin American cities with populations of more than 100,000 for lowest murder and violent crime rates.
Cuenca ended 2015 with an official murder rate of 2.58 per 100,000 population, a drop of 28% from 2014. Non-lethal violent crime, including crimes involving guns and knives, dropped by 32% from 2014.
Ecuador Interior Minister Jose Serrano, a Cuenca native, said the statistics are a “concrete example of what a larger, better trained police force, improved forensics, and increased citizen involvement can do to prevent crime.”
Although Serrano said that murder and violent crime by 22% nationwide, he said he was most proud of the lower rates in Cuenca. “I have a personal stake in improving life in my home town since I have suffered a terrible loss here,” he said. Serrano’s brother was stabbed to death in 2011 when he tried to stop a fight on Calle Larga.
According to InsightCrime, Cuenca would have the lowest murder rate in Latin America if rates for four cities in Uruguay and Argentina do not decline from 2014.
Among other Ecuadorian cities, Manta, Esmeraldas and Guayaquil had the highest murder rates at 8.78, 8.24 and 7.28 per 100,000, all significant improvements from 2014. Quito’s rate was 4.74 in 2015.
Among non-violent crimes, car vehicle theft in Cuenca showed the largest decline at 48%.
Personal theft, home and commercial burglaries showed smaller declines, of 2.23%, 4.75% and 14.67%, respectively.
“We still have much work to do for thefts and burglaries, especially personal thefts,” said Cuenca national police commander Pedro Jijón. “We will concentrate in these areas in 2016.”