SANTIAGO – The Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions implemented to stop it have affected crime, Chilean authorities report. In several districts, assaults have increased significantly. Nationwide, however, crime has decreased but people feel more unsafe.
The Ministry of the Interior reports however that in certain districts in the Metropolitan region the number of robberies and burglaries have jumped dramatically and the public’s sense of insecurity is increasing, too. Overall, however, crime in the Metropolitan region has actually decreased this year.
The same is true nationwide, with some regional variation. In the Atacama region, the Valparaíso region, the Biobío region, and the Aysén region, for example, crime has plummeted; but in the Magallanes region, criminal activity has increased.
In general, crimes which the ministry typifies as crimes with greater social connotations decreased by 14 percent in the Metropolitan region between January and May 2020. So far, there were nearly 170,000 crimes registered, approximately 28,000 less than during the same period in 2019. However, local authorities dispute these numbers as an undercount, because many crimes are going unreported during the pandemic because the police are not always available to take reports.
A 1,000 Percent Increase in Assaults
The general decrease finds a sharp contrast in several lower income districts of Santiago, where the economic impact of the crisis has been severe. In Macul, assaults increased by 22 percent in the last four weeks. In Pedro Aguirre Cerda, there was a 1,000 percent increase in assaults, and in Lo Espejo burglaries jumped by 40 percent.
Among the more serious crimes committed nationwide, the latest National Urban Safety Survey found that in more than 23 percent of the cases where a household suffered a crime the crime was assault. At the same time, the survey reports, the crime numbers nationwide are decreasing.
Compared with last year, crime has dropped 2.1 percent and is at its lowest level since 2013, the survey said. Theft, assault, and burglary are still the most common crimes, although cybercrime is on the rise.
Despite the nationwide decrease, people still feel more unsafe in Chile: 82 percent questioned in the survey believe that crime increased in the country during 2019, and 37 percent believe that they will be a victim of crime in the next 12 months.