In the first four months of 2019, the number of murders and violent crimes has dropped dramatically in Cuenca and Azuay Province, according to the National Police.
Through May 5, there were 10 murders in the province compared to 17 for the same period in 2018 while there were 182 non-lethal violent crimes compared to 223 in 2018.
“These are good numbers and show that we are one of the safest communities in Ecuador and South America but they are still too high,” says Romulo Correa, spokesman for the police.
In other categories, home burglaries dropped from 247 in 2018 to 182 in the same period of 2019 while street robberies increased from 261 to 324.
Azuay Governor Xavier Enderica said the crime numbers are positive and reflect a downward trend but said the “perception of insecurity” remains a problem. “Petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and theft of personal belongings remains a major issue and is under-reported,” he says. “We are taking measures to strengthen street patrols to address the problem but success also requires that residents be vigilant and report all crime.”
Enderica says that Azuay Province is expecting 700 new police officers this year, bolstering the current force of 1,200. Of the new personnel, 430 will be assigned to Cuenca while the rest will work in other cantons.
Enderica says that the majority of violent crime is inter- and intra-family or gang related and that alcohol is a contributing factor. An average of 2,500 alcohol-related arrests are made each week in the province, mostly in Cuenca, he says.
He added that there appears little evidence that Venezuelan refugees have contributed significantly to the crime statistics. There are an estimated 5,000 refugees living in the province, the majority of them in Cuenca.
Reviewing crime in all categories, Correa says that the Cuenca has lower rates than the rest of the province, especially for murder and crimes of violence.