Police arrest motorcycle bandits, intensify efforts against robberies; Tram revises emergency response; Ridership increases; Covid cases drop again
National Police announced the arrests Friday of four men they say have participated in armed robberies using motorcycles. The men were stopped in dragnets targeting all motorcyclists at several high-traffic intersections in Cuenca.
The men were described as two Ecuadorians and two Venezuelans, all armed with small caliber firearms. According to police, two of the men are accused of a Tuesday daytime attack on a woman on Calle Tomás Ordóñez near Juan Jaramillo. The woman was shot during the assault in which the thieves attempted to steal her backpack. The robbery was stopped by passersby who came to the woman’s assistance. The woman was treated and released from a local hospital.
National and transit police say they will maintain roadblocks to check motorcyclists in coming days. “There have been at least 20 robberies and attempted robberies in recent weeks in which the assailants were on motorcycles,” a police spokesman said. “The robbers always work in pairs, with the passenger committing the crime while the driver provides the get-away. Because of this, we are stopping all motorcycles carrying two people.”
According to the spokesman, cell phones and backpacks are the primary targets of the motorcycle thieves. “Most of the robberies do not involve deadly weapons but several of them have and this is our major concern.” He added that robberies by thieves on foot have also increased but could not provide numbers.
Local motorcyclists are complaining of the road stops, saying they are not fair to law-abiding cyclists.
Cuenca Covid cases drop
The regional office of the health ministry reported 219 new cases of the Covid-19 virus in the week ending Friday, October 16. The number is down from the 355 and 349 reported the two previous weeks.
New Tram emergency response plan adopted
The city transportation office is revising its procedures in cases involving tranvia accidents. The revision is the result of an accident in the historic district October 1 in which a motorcyclist died when he collided with the train. According to police, there was a 17-minute delay from the time the accident was reported and the arrival of an ambulance. A bystander reported that the cyclist was alive shortly after the accident but died before the ambulance arrived, a claim later denied by doctors who said the cyclist was killed instantly upon impact. The transportation office said that, in the future, tram operators will have a direct line to first responders and not go through the ECU911 emergency call system.
Tram ridership increases
Tram director Carolina Ormaza reported Friday that system ridership increased by more than 50 percent during the past week. She credited the increase to increasing familiarity with the system by users, the purchase of more transit cards and the reduction of single ticket prices from $1 to 30 cents.