The robbery that spreads fear in Chile, but there is a 0.002% chance that it will happen to you
The media do not skip any. It is difficult to avoid it, this content attracts a high level of morbid, due the violence. But it is worth asking if these acts are as common as people think.
If you read the last #ThrowbackThursday, I promised to post something about a phenomenon that is being covered for years by the local press. Especially television, which have all the daily details of what they have dubbed 'portonazos' and 'encerronas'.
A violent burglary, often with firearms, which consists of preventing a car driver from leaving on the street or at the entrance to their homes. Then, the car is used to commit other types of crimes, to be finally abandoned on the outskirts of Gran Santiago.
The feeling of vulnerability of the people of Santiago has skyrocketed with respect to these crimes. Despite data to the contrary. An editorial in La Tercera put it this way:
The Enusc (National Survey of Citizen Security) shows that theft, injuries and robbery with surprise have shown a drop, in all three cases with significant statistical variations. However, in a crime of such a high connotation as robbery with violence and intimidation, no variation is observed with respect to 2019, an aspect that probably explains in part why there is still so much fear. It is one of the areas that touches the population more sensitively, facts that are also usually profusely disseminated by the media, as is the case of "portonazos" -in 2020 there were about 13 thousand events of this type, most of them concentrated in the Metropolitan Region-, where in addition to an increase in frequency, higher levels of violence are also observed.
A few days ago Carabineros and the Undersecretary of Crime Prevention have published figures regarding this autochthonous phenomenon called "portonazos". According to Carabineros data, during 2021 there were 6,500 of these crimes (almost half if we look at the information published by La Tercera that we saw previously). While the Undersecretary said that there were more than 600 "portonazos" in January 2022 alone.
Does the phenomenon exist?
A simple calculation made me have to go deeper into this issue. The Carabineros data seemed to me quite low for a crime with such a social connotation (the most repeated in society). Not only because it decreased by 50% compared to last year -while the sensation has only increased-, but also because this figure means that there were 18 (17.8) burglaries per day.
This when put in the context of the total number of trips made, only in Greater Santiago are more than 9 million per day in private transport (2017). This means that there is a chance of (at least) 0.0002% that you will be the victim of a "portonazo" in a day in Chile.
The phenomenon starts to become even more extinguished when reviewing all the crimes of greater social connotation, which are composed of homicides, thefts, minor injuries, serious injuries and robbery with violence or intimidation, among others. It is in the latter where the burglaries are considered and their overall figures change the perspective often seen in the press.
In total there were 234,064 crimes called of "greater social connotation" in 2021, 386,483 in 2020, 554,829 in 2019 and 549,837 in 2018. In those same years, according to the Calle Segura program of the administration of Sebastián Piñera, in 2018 there were 2,746 "portonazos" and "encerronas" (robberies with violence or intidimación with type of property affected a vehicle) and in 2019 3,523. In 2020 13,000 (according to La Tercera) and 2021 a little more than 6,500.
In other words, the total number of "portonazos" and "encerronas" during 2021 was equivalent to 2.78% of the total number of crimes with greater social connotation in Chile.
The aforementioned editorial leaves between its lines an idea behind this feeling of crime and chaos that is beginning to breathe in the country. These are facts that tend to be profusely spread by the media and the people who consume them begin to build a real snowball with those close to them.
While I am grateful that there are fewer homicides than burglaries, it is not that burglaries outnumber common thefts, reports of serious or very serious injuries, or even robberies in inhabited and non-inhabited places. Moreover, until 2019 the State could have been more concerned about the high number of reported rapes, which exceeded the number of burglaries and burglaries:
In 2018, there were 3,509 reports of rape and 2,746 reports of burglary with vehicles involved. The following year there were 4,113 reports of rape and 3,523 reports of burglary with vehicles involved.
In other annual indexes and in worse place than burglary is domestic violence against women or children, which exceeds 80 thousand complaints each year since 2018 and sexual abuse.
There is no excuse, but...
No one is saying that these types of crimes are not prosecuted and tried. A part of me wanted to resolve a doubt that, perhaps instinctively, I found peculiar. In that I found many data that allow us to better see the effects that the press has with respect to its news fronts.
There are many deficient aspects in the "fight against crime". At a time when we are questioning our battles, trying to break paradigms, I think it is necessary to review the data before making decisions. Not to find culprits.
There is a phenomenon, over covered by the press, that causes a giant sense of fear in the population. However, it is not something that happens