Beware! ‘Tis the season of the thieves.
The National Police have sent out their annual season greetings accompanied with the warning that this is the most active time of year for thieves in Cuenca. They estimate that the number of purse snatches and picked pockets in December is double any other month of the year.
According to Pedro Jijón, Azuay police chief, petty thieves understand that people carry more money in the weeks before Christmas, not to mention gifts, making them more inviting targets. They caution that passengers on city buses are prime targets but say that pedestrians and drivers and passengers in private cars are also “subjects of opportunity.”
Jijón says that reports of bus thefts have tripled in the first week of December and says he has assigned dozens of undercover cops to ride city buses through the end of the month.
Police foot and horse patrols have been increased in city parks, where many thefts occur during the Christmas season. “We are tripling our patrols, concentrating on catching the thieves,” Jijón says. “We are focusing on the river parks on the Rios Tomebamba and Yanuncay, Parque Paraiso, Parque de la Madre and Parque Miraflores, but thefts happen in all public spaces.”
Jijón says the public is the main deterrent to crime. “Always secure your money and your belongings when you are in public. On buses, keep a tight grip on packages and keep purses and wallets inside your clothing if possible,” he says.
Drivers should make sure their windows are up and doors are locked when they are driving or parked. Valuables should be kept beside the driver or in a locked trunk, he says.