For 2018 - Crime in General, Crime around Cuence ... Experiences ???

Second post of the day, hello to everyone again. My wife and I plan on moving to Ecuador in 2020. First we plan on living around Cuence for around 3 months, and if things feel right to us we'll be making arrangements for selling our home where we're at now, in order to purchase property in or around Cuence (please, no replies about how bad of an idea that could be, and yes, we read the 13 truths about Ecuador from ecuadorrealestate.org). We've moved across the ocean with household goods & container several times already and we've done tons of research into all Asian as well as South American Countries which would fit our needs ... the cost of living as well as climate being two very important needs.

Anyway, I'm writing this post because my wife and I have read hundreds of posts on Ecudaor & Expat pages, about the crime in Ecuador. Many of those posts have been completely conflicting ... people claiming to have lived in Ecuador for 5 to 10 years without ever encountering crime ... while others have stated that crime is so bad, that it's actually become a primary reason for leaving Ecuador again. Of course we understand that all larger cities (Manta, Quito, Guayaquil, etc.) have crime, and to some degree even massive crime, drug running, murder, organized crime. But what we've found puzzling were blogs and posts from Tourists/Expats who are "shocked" about barred windows and things like that.

When we lived in Florida, in a smaller city fairly close to the coast, it was exactly the same. Everyone had their lower level doors & windows barred up. When we lived in a quiet tiny village with just about zero crime (no kidding) in Germany, same thing there ... everyone had lower windows barred up and protected. Then we read the 13 Truths about Ecuador, which reads on Number 8 ... If you buy a stand-alone house it will probably get robbed multiple times once it is furnished. Often, its better to buy in gated community ... which got my wife and I to thinking, what ??? Seriously ??? That sounds more than just extreme. How can people break in and rob all the furniture out of your house, if the walls/fences, barred windows, and locked doors are already in place? That sounds pretty crazy to us ...

Here's an interesting link with crime comparison between the USA and Ecuador. Crime Comparison between USA and Ecuador.

Would some of you please shed some light on the crime situation within Ecuador and more specifically Cuence? We would love to hear from people with actual real life experiences. Not a bunch of comments with whatifs, maybes, and perhapses, since those don't adress this question. But rather, comments with real experiences by people who've actually experienced crime (or the lack of crime), during a prolonged stay in Ecuador. We simply can't imagine crime being worse in Ecuador/Cuence, then in Florida or for that matter any city the size of Manta or larger in the USA. Thank you very much for your time.

If you've read the hundreds of posts you should realize that no one can predict with any certainty if any one person or family will suffer crime or not.  It happens to one - but does not happen to another.

Your impression is correct - crime in Ecuador is not worse than in Florida or any big city in the US.  But there's still a lot of burglaries, and there is also street crime, crimes of opportunity where a grab-and-run of a handbag, or a mugging occurs.

Foreigners are generally attractive targets because it's perceived, usually correctly like Willie Sutton said, "that's where the money is".  But just being aware of your surroundings and not putting yourself into dicey situations can prevent most if not all robberies.  Burglaries are another story, especially if you don't know or mix with your neighbors and there's no one at home during regular times that a watcher could figure out.

My personal experience with crime in Ecuador was in Quito, quite a few years ago, where I lived for several years.    My family never experienced any street crime at all, but we did have a vehicle stolen that was never recovered.

If I were to consider moving to CUENCA, for me crime would not even enter into the equation, it being quite negligible.

I've never had any issues whatsoever and neither has anyone in my family. What I do know about online information is that some of it is outdated and don't reflect the current reality, statistically speaking. But I have also read on this very forum and in other blogs that some expats don't leave their homes after dark.

Personally I could not live like that. I love the night too much and the nightlife. But I am always aware of my surroundings, and know the areas and places that I go to. But my experiences may be a bit different as I don't see myself a foreigner anymore, but more so a resident of quito or quiteño. Additionally I don't talk English, and know how to conduct myself in public.

As for public buses, especially trolley buses, I take them night and day, and especially when there is heavier traffic as they are quicker. Having said that I know one Ecuadorian woman who is afraid of public buses because she was robbed on one, and takes taxis to and from work.

Ultimately one has to develop a feel for their new home. And as I mentioned before some expats don't leave their homes after dark. So determining what is safe or not is obviously subjective but if we look at the stats (some of which I have posted on this very forum) then Ecuador is safer than most of Latin America, statistically speaking.

But there is perception, and there is also the fact that one may feel vulnerable if that person doesn't understand what is happening around them, for instance unable to understand the language.

Alright to continue from before (was in a bit of a rush). I would like to describe my residence. Essentially I live in a fortress with 10 feet high walls and atop of them is an electric fence which surrounds the entire house.

I live on one floor of this house, with a couple of other tenants occupying the other two floors. In order for someone to enter this fortress  :D  they have to pass through a steel door on the outside. This door can be opened via intercom. After entering that door there is yet another steel door which leads to inside the building, and after that a wooden door for each apartment within the house.

The area I live in is one of the safest  areas as it has numerous banks, embassies, and malls with a lot of police and private security. This is basically how my entire neighborhood is and while the residences may seem unsightly from the outside they are quite nice on the inside.

This is simply how it is here, and obviously for a reason. Would I ever live in the middle of nowhere? Not a chance, and this is from someone who is assimilating as good as anyone else. I simply won't feel comfortable in that particular setting, and especially when family is in town as they stick out and are completely naive.

Just to give an opposing view of vsimple's housing. We live in a four story apartment building (constructed in 2014). Contrary to every building in our neighbourhood, we do not have a high wall around the building, nor electric fencing. Anyone can walk up to the door and look in. Our security defence is that the stairwell is completely visible to the outside world and the entire building is covered by security cameras. We moved in in early 2014 and lived alone in the building (12 suites and 4 commercial spaces) for months and had no issues. The building is now (mostly) full. The extent of crime was a stolen begonia from the planter out front, at least to this point in time.

Our neighbour (an older Ecuadorian woman), feels that Cuenca is rife with crime and won't leave her home after dark, but we come and go unmolested (day and night) and haven't experienced anything in the way of crime. We have heard second hand stories of pick pocketing and grab and runs, but haven't experienced it ourselves. I think if you have a property somewhere in the middle of no where as vsimple explains), you're more likely to experience problems for the "where the money is factor" (we gringos really are perceived as wealthy here) and lack of neighbours. I have walked home alone at night, but don't think I'd do it past 9 or 10pm, just in case.  Together, we've walked home at well past midnight safely, but we live in el centro, not in the outskirts.

All this being said, I think some people just attract crime, but I can't figure out why: too flashy? Too naive? Too frail? Too tempting? Who knows? We're city folk, so used to moving with purpose and being vigilant and street savvy.

I, a 69-year old single female, has lived in Cuenca for a bit more than 2 years. I have never had any encounters which were suspicious, much less threatening. I frequently walk alone after dark, but only up until 9 pm. That is not because of the threat of crime, but because I go to sleep at 10 pm.

That said, I do not carry large sums of money. I draw what I need for the week from the bank and only carry enough to do my errands on any given day. I took the same precautions when I lived in St. Paul, MN, or in Hollywood, FL.

I consider Cuenca to be a safe city. There are areas, usually those with a high concentration of Gringos, where I don't go after dark...because there aren't any activities to attract me there. I usually walk from 4 to 6 km every day, so I am not exactly being a hermit.

I live in a 3 story building and am friendly with the occupants who live above and below me. The family on the 3rd floor frequently invites me to share a meal and I reciprocate with baked goods I've made. I know most of my other neighbors and stop to chat with them if time permits. I talk to strangers on the bus (mostly to practice conversational Spanish). A couple of my neighbors like the opportunity to practice their English as well.

My house has a modest metal wall to enclose the front for parking cars. The gate is always locked. There is a solid wood door to gain access to the interior of the building. Each apartment has a metal grated door as well as a solid wood door. Windows on 1st & 2nd floors have metal grates also.

I feel totally safe here. Although I stand out as "not a local", people have been friendly and cooperative. It has been my experience that some people (looking at you, Gringos!) seem to have the unfortunate habit of focusing on the negative and failing to enjoy the wonderful abundance of life that can be lived. More's the pity. Guess the same thing happens in the USA, if the news from there is any indication.

PEI Red :

...I think some people just attract crime...

There is definitely something to that.  Career criminals and con men/women are predators - they can spot weaknesses and vulnerabilities almost instinctively and do not hesitate to take advantage of them.

That's why at least for crimes against persons, there is safety in numbers, in being alert and confident and not hesitant, in not appearing befuddled - anything that gives an appearance of strength may make a predator choose another victim.

But Ecuador in any case is certainly one of the lowest-crime countries in South America - which makes it much safer in general than many cities in the US.

Ok since we're discussing criminal predators then I might as well contribute to the discussion.   ;)

A friend of mine freelances as an Uber driver and as a pirata (gypsy cab). So I asked him, because he works very late on weekends (best fares), if he feels safe driving around arbitrarily and picking up strangers, and he replied that before he lets people in he looks at their faces.

Some people may think this is judgmental but there is science behind it and I measure people up this way as well. Some people have faces that more or less indicate that they are criminals. If one is skeptical then read this piece from psychology today.

Yeah I judge how people look and how they look at me. Call it judgmental, call it whatever.

Totall off-topic, sorry.  :offtopic: Well, for whatever it's worth, I have to completely disagree with that above provided psychology article. First, it's based on opinion and not scientifically agreed upon research over many years with thousands of people involved ... second, because of my extreme liking for Hard Rock & Heavy Metal music as well as my quite long hair (I'm a man), I couldn't begin to tell you how many times I've (at first glance) been compared to all sorts of criminals in general, Charles Manson, and yes, even Jesus Christ by someone who was going to pray for me, for whatever reason. HOWEVER ... I have been screwed over so many times, because in reality I'm a very sensitive, caring person who rescues animals, helps neighbors without being asked to help, and donates money now and then for good causes. Best love song on the planet ... For crying out loud ... by Meatloaf.
Third, a lot of what this guys says, is presented more as an absolute, instead of something that may be true more often than not.
Fourth, and yes, even I have met people in my life whom I judged by "their cover" only to find our later one that I was grossly mistaken about that person. This has happened to my wife in both directions, people who appeared to be pleasant, nice, healthy & somewhat attractive looking ... as well as people who, at first glance might cause your neck hairs to stand up. Fifth, evaluating a person's character simply by looking at a single photograph ??? Seriously ??? And you believe this nonsense ???
I love psychology, I really do ... but this guy with his blog is a dangerous quack (IMO) who sounds like a Trump loving advocate, with the will to shove people away after having merely taken a quick look at them. There are far better, more realistic psychology sites out there than the one mentioned above. Heck, even WebMD & Wikipedia provide better, more realistic insights for that matter. Yes, how a person looks MAY provide an insight, to someone with the SKILLSET of acute, extreme recognition, but that's as far as that goes, which most certainly doesn't represent most people.
Anyway, PEACE.   ;)    :cheers:

Freejack :

Totall off-topic, sorry.  :offtopic: Well, for whatever it's worth, I have to completely disagree with that above provided psychology article. First, it's based on opinion and not scientifically agreed upon research over many years with thousands of people involved

Actually the psychology today article was based on a paper titled The Accuracy of  Inferences About Criminality Based On Facial Appearance which was published in theJournal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology and written by three Cornell Professors, Jeffrey M. Valla, Wendy M. Williams and Stephen J. Ceci. These professors conducted "two experiments in which participants, given a set of headshots of criminals and non-criminals, were able to reliably distinguish between these two groups..."

But this forum is about Ecuador and this sub-topic which I take responsibility for could sidetrack the importance of this thread which is about crime in Ecuador. Therefore let's get back on track.

As one may know being aware of your surroundings is key to being safer. I will give a practical example about how to go about it. I live in centro-norte Quito in a mainly upper-middle class neighborhood. I dress as I please, take out my latest Iphone as I please, and go about my day similarly like many other residents.

Today however I went to mercado San Roque, and I dressed appropriately. I put on a pair of jeans, a semi-worn out hoodie sweater, and a pair of old sneakers. Would i wear my usual shoes there, nope, would I wear my relatively expensive watch there, no, would I wear my jacket there, nope.

You get the point, and if not it's that I don't want my clothes to attract attention.

The area is not dangerous during the day, but it's a bit rough, and one has to definitely exercise caution as it gets dark.

I've lived in Quito for the last 7 years and go out most days and often use public transport. I have never personally experienced crime, although of course it happens. Although my mobile phone was stolen once by a pickpocket without me even realizing it. Statistics show that the five provinces with the highest rates of crime are in order: Guayas, Pichincha, Azuay, Manabí, Los Ríos. Cuenca is in Azuay, so it comes third behind Guayaquil and Quito. In general I would say that crime in Ecuador is fuelled by sheer financial desesperation. Whereas in some other parts of the world crime often goes hand in hand with agression. Hence the incidence of violent crime in Ecuador is much, much lower compared to say the US or Mexico. Keep well, Russell

Thank you very much, Russell. That makes a lot of sense ...

russelleaton :

I've lived in Quito for the last 7 years and go out most days and often use public transport. I have never personally experienced crime, although of course it happens. Although my mobile phone was stolen once by a pickpocket without me even realizing it. Statistics show that the five provinces with the highest rates of crime are in order: Guayas, Pichincha, Azuay, Manabí, Los Ríos. Cuenca is in Azuay, so it comes third behind Guayaquil and Quito. In general I would say that crime in Ecuador is fuelled by sheer financial desesperation. Whereas in some other parts of the world crime often goes hand in hand with agression. Hence the incidence of violent crime in Ecuador is much, much lower compared to say the US or Mexico. Keep well, Russell

Pickpocketing does exist, but so does violent crime. There are numerous CCTV footage of criminals grabbing something and running away with it. But there are also incidences when a victim chooses to fight back as was the case several weeks ago when a 50 something year old man tried to defend his daughter from a man who wanted to take her cell phone.The result was her dad was stabbed to death. This is just one example, another was when a guesthouse was robbed and the owner, and one guest were murdered. Yet another was when a dude defended his girlfriend from harassment, they got off the bus, and the boyfriend was stabbed in the neck and bled to death. I could go on an on, but these three immediately come to mind as they are completely senseless.

Just be careful, and one of these murders was at San Roque, and I specifically mentioned that I dress completely different when going to that area.

For members who have been reading my posts, they know that crime has increased this year. It's not merely an observation, but one that is backed up with statistics that have been reported in the local news. I think for Quito, we have enjoyed the end of a declining crime trend.

Yesterday, in an area that residents of Quito know very well, there was a brazen and violent robbery and assault in broad daylight with traffic and many onlookers. The area is 6 de diciembre y portugal and less than a block from megamaxi. The shocking crime was recorded by onlookers. These criminals seem organized and await people outside a bank.

In this incident, there were two men waiting on motorcycles and two other men robbing and assaulting two male victims. One of the criminals fired a gun near one of the victims.  They later fled on motorcycles up portugal. Usually, using motorcycles to rob people is a Guayaquil thing, but it's here too.

For people who don't know Quito, this area is one of the safest areas in town. There are malls, restaurants, banks and a lot of police around.

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