La Ronda is just around the corner

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Expats about crime and thief in Ecuador. November 2015.

From Expat Exchange Ecuador forum
As for protecting your property with extreme prejudice, it is frowned upon here...and the person who uses the most force is held in greatest contempt by the law -- in other words, you shoot the person robbing you and you go to jail...
The rules are different here. Material goods are less important than the person and the soul...
It will require changing your entire way of thinking and reacting ---with the understanding that the country of Ecuador will change and you must.
Wife and I have lived in Vilcabamba 3-1/2 years. Frequent criminal activity is a fact of life in this village and the surrounding area, most commonly in the form of break-ins when the occupant is away from home. I was robbed twice in my former apartment, my neighbor three times. The house adjacent to where I now live has been hit six times. At least half my gringo friends have been victims of break-ins, and, to a much lesser extent, the town’s tiendas and restaurants.
Having “stuff” makes you an inevitable target of the criminal element that is following the scent of cell phones, laptops, cash, jewelry. There are, however, deterrents: dogs, walls, bars, guards, safes, or someone always or usually home. I know of a compound on the edge of town; a restaurant and four stand-alone dwellings, that has been the subject of four break-ins since I’ve lived here. Of those five structures, the only one unscathed is the residence of dog owners with two German Shepherds. Not a fail-safe, but passive countermeasures definitely help.
In the past, during periods when break-ins were particularly numerous, the gringos organized meetings, talked of buying walky-talkies, making all-night patrols and similar, but nothing ever came of it.
With the exception of drunks, jerks and druggies beating each other up, violent crime such as home invasion, assault, rape and murder is rare; only once or twice a year in the Vilcabamba area. On the other hand, petty crime such as the loss of unattended backpacks and phones is common. But I consider that stupidity, not crime.
There’s little the police can do other than deterrence and prevention. On weekends when there are lots of tourists in town, particularly on holidays, the police are out in greater numbers on foot, mingling, watching. A year ago they began patrolling all night with a vehicle, flashing lights, blipping siren, search light. I appreciate their efforts. However, when your house gets robbed (and even the Mayor’s was hit a few months ago) there’s not much they can do except send out a couple officers, take a report and offer sympathy. When your stuff gets swallowed by the criminal element, the chances of recovery are near zero.
This is part of life in Vilcabamba.
Hell yeah there is burglary in Ecuador! And yes there is targeting of gringos because, hey they have the nice stuff!
And the criminal element tends to come around when the gringos revamp the homes they buy -- they may be in the work crews or more likely in the bars where the work crews congregate.
Some things to consider: when away from your property, have others stay there. When traveling, rather than tenting, stay in hostals or set camping areas (it will be primitive enough) and travel with known tour guides. There are reasons for this besides safety from belligerents. You do not want to inadvertently wander onto private areas that would be unwelcoming. There is narcotrafficking and there are narco "labs" in out of the way places. Wandering back in to one inadvertently is not a good thing and not knowing you are, can be hazardous to your health. And how do I know this? Friends who have horses and ride ... some are horse people on the coast, some in the Andes, on both the east and west slopes. Usually you get a friendly warning from someone who steps out of the flora and fauna and suggests you take the other road.
This is not North America. This is what you have to remember. Different culture, different language, different customs. As far as crime goes, I don't think it is any different than anywhere else up north. Knock on wood, I've never been assaulted even after living in Quito and volunteering in the worst section of Quito for 5 years.
If it's not locked up or securely attached to something, it's gone, as soon as you turn your back.
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