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Crime in Cuenca Ecuador: Truth vs. Fiction
Cuenca, Ecuador--Crime in Cuenca is a real and constant part of life in Ecuador. Whether you are simply visiting the city or if you are thinking about living and retiring in Ecuador, understanding and adapting to the crime levels in Cuenca is important for your safety and well-being. Get bad advice or fall for the top myths about crime in Cuenca, and you'll find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. This article aims to honestly address the issue of crime in Cuenca and replace some of the myths about crime in Cuenca with facts.
Cuenca's Calle Larga
Is Calle Larga Really The Most Dangerous Place In Cuenca?
One of the first myths about crime in Cuenca has to do with Calle Larga. Many publications written and published before 2009's clean up initiative along the street will tell you that Calle Larga is the most dangerous street in Cuenca. This is simply not true anymore.
Development around Calle Larga in the last few years has shifted the crime center in the historic old town. Though pickpockets and necklace snatchers are a constant annoyance throughout South America, at night Calle Larga is not the danger zone it once was due to the many new restaurants and businesses that are open all along the street. These restaurants, such as La Esquina and Chipotle, are open late and keep an eye on their share of the street to protect their customers.
Instead of Calle Larga, if you want the most dangerous streets in Cuenca you need to watch out for the zone that runs from about Luis Cordero to Huyana Capac, from Juan Jaramillo to Sucre. Locals are held up most often here as they go clubbing and out at night, with the intersection of Presidente Borero and Juan Jaramillo held as the most dangerous late night spot in Cuenca according to local lore.
If I'm Not In Centro, I'm Safe
Another common myth about crime in Cuenca is that crime only happens in the center of the city, known as the Centro Historico. The Centro Historico is the touristic heart of the city, and it is true that pickpockets will prey on unwary tourists whenever they can. However, you put yourself in danger if you think that you won't be robbed outside of the tourist zone.
Whenever you are walking alone in Cuenca in the evening hours or in an unfamiliar neighborhood, you need to be alert and aware of your surroundings. Thieves thrive in many parts of the city, from dark thoroughfares like 12 de Abril to the outskirt zones like Los Pinos Bajos. Most will engage in opportunistic rather than violent crimes, but late night crime is a real problem throughout Cuenca. When in doubt, take a taxi rather than walking, or go with a friend rather than going alone.
No One Really Has A Gun Here!
A final major myth about crime in Cuenca is that the crime here is mostly non-violent and petty. Don't be fooled, especially if you are thinking about becoming a resident of Cuenca. Home invasions are often conducted at knifepoint, and those who make a big fuss will be shot.
It's not just for show that most homes in Cuenca have an alarm sign in their yards or pasted on their gates. Armed thieves can and do break into homes in Cuenca, especially in notably well-to-do areas such as Challuabamba. Violent break-ins happen occasionally, prompting a protest march against crime in Cuenca by locals in early 2011 and boosted patrols in 2014 to bring the numbers back down. Keeping a large dog, having an alarm system, or contributing to funds for a neighborhood guard are common defense strategies for locals, and expats would be wise to consider these options as well. Naturally, not being flashy with wealth or bragging about possessions will also help keep you from being a target!
Cuenca really can be a lovely city, and I don't want to scare you away from moving here if you are considering it. However, don't wander in with rose colored glasses and false impressions - knowing the truth about crime in Cuenca will help keep you from being a target and ensure you have a good time while you are here.