As vendor tents are assembled along the Tomebamba River, police are issuing their annual caution about the petty thieves who come to Cuenca along with tourists the city’s independence holidays.
“Unfortunately, many thieves come too,” said Jaime Diaz, spokesman for the police. “They know that this is a time when people are celebrating and the streets and plazas are full of people having a good time. The cases of pick-pocketing and purse and jewelry snatching will increase dramatically.” Diaz says the thieves prefer to work crowds at concerts, parades and craft shows.
More than 2,000 police and emergency personnel have been assigned to duty for the long holiday weekend according to the National Risk Management office. This includes more than 900 uniformed officers who will patrol areas of crafts and food fairs around the city.
In addition to police with military assistance, 200civilian safety officers will be posted in various areas of the city, particularly at concert sites. Dozens of Red Cross and fire department personnel will also be on duty.
Diaz offers some advice to tourists and residents participating in holiday events. “Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear jewelry, don’t carry more cash than you need and protect your cameras,” says. “The best crime prevention is to not make yourself a target.”
Meanwhile, City officials announced last week that bars would be allow to remain open until 4 a.m. to accommodate the 80,000 to 110,000 tourists expected for the holidays. Among other preparations for the holidays, two additional double-decker sight-seeing buses have arrived in town to handle the expected increase in tourist demand.
As in previous years, residents and tourists are complaining about a scarcity of holiday agendas. Although they have been available in some locations for more than a week, tourist offices and hotels say there are not enough to meet demand and are asking tourism officials to provide more (50,000 were printed).
The agenda is available online as a pdf.