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Home burglaries to rise this year

December 18, 2012

The number of home burglaries in the Guadalajara metropolitan area in 2012 is already on course to surpass last year’s total, with 2,829 incidents in the metro area’s four main municipalities reported to the Jalisco Attorney General’s Office (PGJEJ) between January 1 to October 31. Of these, 1,162 took place in Guadalajara, 997 in Zapopan, 374 in Tlaquepaque and 296 in Tonala.

The La Estancia neighborhood in Zapopan has been the worst affected by theft this year, with reports of 92 robberies filed in the first ten months of the year. Speaking to reporters this week, Zapopan Police Chief David Mora blamed residents of La Estancia – a middle-class neighborhood near the Parque Metropolitano – for not taking preventive measures against break-ins.

“Everything starts with the citizen, you have to self-protect at home,” Mora said, noting that in La Estancia it is common to find simple locks, front doors left open and vehicles left unlocked or with the windows down.

However, the next day Zapopan Mayor Hector Robles put a different spin on the police chief’s comments.

“What I think (Mora) meant is that it’s important for us to work hand-in-hand with citizens to create a culture of prevention, but the responsibility lies with (authorities) 100 percent,” Robles said.

Robles vowed to reduce crime during his administration by boosting surveillance, police presence and response time in targeted neighborhoods such as La Estancia, Chapalita and Jardines del Sol.

Neighborhood watch groups in several Zapopan colonias on the western side of the city have started up since Robles took office at the start of October.

After La Estancia, the affluent Guadalajara neighborhood of Providencia was the next most targeted area, with 69 robberies reported this year. It was followed by Guadalajara’s Colonia Independencia and Loma Dorada in Tonala, each with 56 robberies reported, and Chapalita in Zapopan, with 53 complaints.

The majority of burglars act with impunity, as no one has been tried for 69 percent of the thefts reported this year, with only 870 of these cases having made it to a criminal court. Furthermore, research by the University of Guadalajara (UdeG) indicates that only around 15 percent of robberies are ever reported, meaning the actual number of thefts in Guadalajara, Zapopan, Tonala and Tlaquepaque during the first ten months of the year could be almost 19,000.

Many burglars gain entrance to properties by climbing roofs, fences or gates and forcing open doors, the PGJEJ warned last week. Another common tactic used by criminals is to roam subdivisions in search of residents – mostly women – who have left the door open while sweeping or taking out the trash.

To prevent burglaries, the PGJEJ advises citizens not to leave their doors open and never to allow strangers to enter their homes. Other suggestions include checking the references of domestic workers and reinforcing doors, windows and skylights with strong locks and metal bars.

Homeowners are recommended to keep valuable possessions – such as jewelry or large amounts of money – in a bank safe rather than in the house, while residents are also encouraged to report any suspicious activity in the area and to advise neighbors when going away for a few days.

But break-ins are not the only crimes likely to rise over the Christmas period. As of the beginning of December, police in the metropolitan zone have begun working with banks to escort citizens who withdraw large sums of money, thus deterring criminals who prey on those leaving bank branches.

Authorities are also clamping down on drunk drivers during the holiday season. From December 14 to January 6 the state Department of Transport (SVT) will deploy 189 specialized units to monitor drivers on major roads across the metropolitan zone, 24 hours a day.

Bicycle thieves on the prowl

Guadalajara’s cycling boom in the last few years has also fueled a parallel rise in bike theft.

The increasing popularity of events such as the Sunday Via RecreActiva has led to more people buying bikes, but also to more cyclists and bike shops being targeted by thieves. There have been eight cases of bicycle stores being robbed in the metropolitan zone this year, including three in the past week, while thefts from people’s driveways or street corners are increasingly common.

In the last week armed thieves robbed Moab Bikes in the Arboledas neighborhood and Bike Addict on Avenida Vallarta in Zapopan – the second time the store has been targeted this year. Burglars also broke into Bike Out on Lopez Mateos in Guadalajara’s Arcos Sur neighborhood at night, with the stolen merchandise from the three stores totaling almost two million pesos.

Bikes can be sold from as little as 500 pesos to as much as 65,000 pesos at the very top end of the scale. To avoid theft, cyclists are advised to buy high-quality locks and never leave their bikes in deserted areas with poor illumination.

Similarly, car theft is another major problem. Despite the number of cars reported stolen falling by 11.7 percent nationally in the last year, cases have risen by six percent in Jalisco.

The state recorded 6,881 vehicles stolen from November 2011 to November 2012 (up from 6,512 last year), the fourth highest total in the country after the State of Mexico, the Federal District and Nuevo Leon.

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