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ARGENTINA | 15-05-2024 16:33

Homicide, robbery and petty theft on the rise in Greater Buenos Aires

Since the beginning of 2024, crime has picked up in both the capital and the surrounding metropolitan area. Javier Miglino, head of NGO Defendamos Buenos Aires, highlights the most frequent offences seen in the region.

Crime and insecurity regularly ranks as one of the highest polling concerns for residents in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area. Incidents of robbery, petty theft and even homicides are on the rise in and around the capital.

In an interview with the Noticias Argentinas news agency, Javier Miglino – the head of the Defendamos Buenos Aires NGO, went into greater detail about the most frequent crimes seen since the turn of the year.

At the top of the list come two very different forms of robbery: breaking and entering homes and mobile phone theft. 

For the first method, Miglino explained that the perpetrator or perpetrators carry out a previous reconnaissance of a home. In Greater Buenos Aires, the thieves normally break down doors, whereas in the City, they climb over gates. The most common time for such crimes is weekdays from 8am to 9pm – when homeowners or tenants are not normally home. 

As for the second, the theft of mobile phones, Miglino stressed that it is one of the most common crimes. There can be as many as 10,000 snatched a day in the City, with 5,000 in Greater Buenos Aires.

“It happens anywhere, in the street, on the bus, underground, train, at a bar, or by moped muggers while you’re walking,” said Miglino, the director of an eponymous consultancy firm.

This type of robbery can sometimes end in devastating consequences. “In the cases where a thief or the victim of a crime die or are injured, we call them ‘blood-stained mobiles’,” added the head of the NGO. 

Another frequent crime is the theft of vehicle parts. In this case, criminals take away anything that can be sold on: wheels, licence plates and stereos.

Bicycle theft comes in next. This is much more frequent in Buenos Aires City, especially in the neighbourhoods of Palermo, Belgrano, Núñez, Recoleta and Retiro. This type of crime is not generally replicated in Greater Buenos Aires, where it is less frequent, though hotspots include Quilmes, Lomas de Zamora, San Isidro, Morón and Moreno.

Of late, there have been many reports about the theft of bronze and copper wiring, a crime which comes in fourth. Miglino said these acts are carried out by “organisations which steal to order and know when and what to steal.” The thieves are often fully equipped, transporting grinders, vans and even ladders to assist them.

A few days ago, officers stopped a lorry in Corrientes containing 20 tonnes of copper and bronze that had been stolen from the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area.

“It passed all checks and was heading for Puerto Iguazú. In all, the goods seized were worth two billion pesos. Thus, they are organised mafias,” stated Miglino.

Those who discovered the load were shocked to discover markings that revealed some of it had been stolen from the City neighbourhood of Belgrano, from the corner of Avenida Cabildo and Calle Juramento.

Miglino stated that squatting is the crime that comes in fifth. It mostly happens in the Buenos Aires neighbourhoods of Belgrano, Núñez, Almagro, Flores and Liniers and, as in the case with forced entries, the locations had been scoped out first and initially occupied by women and children. 

“Two weeks later come the ‘tough’ guys, mostly hooligans from some football club, who then rent out the rooms, sell drugs or stolen goods,” he stressed.

It’s not just petty crime that’s on the rise, however. Miglino supplied further alarming data from a recent report that showed that there were 35 homicides a month in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area.

“This was the worst report we’ve done in 20 years” in terms of results, said the expert. “Never were there 35 murders in a month in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area, at least not since the return to democracy.”

The statistic comes from the Delitos, Inseguridad y Violencia (“Crimes, Insecurity and Violence”) report prepared by Defendamos Buenos Aires, assisted by Javier Miglino y Asociados consultancy firm.

The report shows “homicides are not stopping in the Federal Capital [of Buenos Aires City] or in the Conurbano [ring of municipalities around the capital],” said Miglino. “In only 30 days, there were 35 – that is, over one murder every 24 hours.”

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