Police officers patrol in Bogotá, on July 27, 2023.NATHALIA ANGARITA
As you read this article, someone somewhere in Colombia is being robbed. In the first half of 2023, there were 1,081 robberies per day, 44 robberies per hour and one robbery every minute and a half. This was revealed by the fourth version of the Crime Clock, a project of the Excellence in Justice Corporation published this week. The report details the frequency and severity of the most high-impact crimes in the country. In total, during the first six months of 2023 there were 189,358 cases of theft from people, an increase of 23% compared to the same period of the previous year.
The report, which uses data from the National Police's Statistical, Delinquent, Contraventional and Operational Information System (SIDECO) and therefore reflects the reported events, also reveals that every 40 minutes a person is killed. "As for common homicides, in the first half of 2023 there was an average of approximately 36 daily incidents." From January to June 2023 there were 6,407 homicides, which means a reduction of 3.3%, compared to the first six months of the previous year.
On Monday morning, a robbery and a homicide occurred simultaneously in Bogota. In the La Serena neighborhood of the town of Engativá, west of the city, a man who minutes before had stolen a bicycle was shot dead. "The victim of the theft states that when the men stole his bicycle, another citizen noticed the situation, drew a firearm and began shooting," reads the report of the authorities. The thief died and the man who killed him disappeared. Police urged citizens, through a press release, not to exercise justice on their own.
The double tragic event, which occurred in the middle of a public thoroughfare, took place on a day and at an unusual time for thefts. According to the Excellence in Justice report, the statistics detail three times of the day when more robberies were carried out: "Between 10 a.m. and 10:59 a.m. (24% more cases), between 11 a.m. and 11:59 a.m. (22% more cases) and between 7 p.m. and 7:59 p.m. (26% more cases)." Fridays and Saturdays were the days on which these events were recorded the most, with 44% more cases compared to any other day of the week.
Less than a month ago, something similar happened to Engativá, also in Bogotá. On September 1, several citizens chased and beat to death a person who minutes before had stolen a bicycle. "The alleged thief was reached by several inhabitants of the sector who gave him multiple blows and a wound in the chest with a knife," the authorities reported at the time. Witnesses told El Espectador that the man was stripped of his clothes and dragged along Ciudad de Cali Avenue, where he was left lying down.
According to police data, in the first six months of 2023 a bicycle was stolen every 42 minutes. This is equivalent, on average, to 34 cases per day, for a total of 6,159 bicycle thefts in this period of time. The report explains that most occurred in Bogotá. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, up to 45% more cases were reported than on any other day. According to the system, between 5 a.m. and 5:59 a.m. (79% more cases), between 11:00 a.m. and 11:59 a.m. (42% more cases) and between 7 p.m. and 7:59 p.m. (37% more cases).
In addition to recording thefts and homicides, the report states that the other crime that grew the most in Colombia during the first half of 2023 was extortion. In total, the authorities are aware of 5,269 events of this modality from January to June, an increase of 38% compared to the same period of 2022. National Police figures show that "men were the main victims of extortion, with 66% of the total cases and the telephone call represented the main means used by crime (42.6%), followed by direct extortion (23.2%), social networks (14.6%) and the extortion letter (6.7%)."
In contrast, the number of sex crimes in the first half of this year fell by 41%, compared to the same period in 2022. In total, 10,205 of these incidents were presented. 57 incidents daily or 1 every 25 minutes. The report reveals that 82.4% of victims of sexual crimes were women and that 3 out of 10 victims were under the age of 13. "The fourth version of the Crime Clock reveals an alarming fact: the crucial time in which more of the 14 sex crimes were carried out was between 12:00 a.m. and 12:59 a.m., with 339% more cases compared to the average of all hours."
In addition, the report states that 71% of victims of domestic violence were women. In the same way as sexual crimes, 52,060 events were reported in the first half of 2023, which translates into 289 daily events or, on average, 1 case every 5 minutes. This means a decrease of 27% of the total compared to the previous year. "For the commission of this crime, in 19% of cases the use of blunt weapons was recorded and, of the seven days of the week, this crime occurred most frequently on Sundays, when up to 59% more cases were registered than any other day."
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