Saturday, February 6, 2010

Crime in the Streets

I've always been a staunch defender of Peru's reputation. People claim that Lima is a 'dangerous' place to live, that crime is rampant on its streets. However, in 6 years of living here, I've never had a problem.

For one thing, Lima has an enormous amount of poverty, and with poverty comes crime. Desperate, uneducated people do desperate, stupid things.

However, Lima also has a serious problem with jail overcrowding. Because of this, for most theft or robbery under a certain monetary value, the police do nothing. So the crime here tends to be very petty crime, snatch and grab type stuff, because the criminals know they can get away with it. Violent crime or use of a weapon means jail time.

For the average person - like me - this means you don't go to certain areas alone. You don't walk around with large amounts of cash or jewelry. You pay attention to your surroundings, you carry bags securely, you make sure the taxi is licensed before you get in it. My husband was mugged a few years back - he was walking through a bad area, known for small time gang stuff, talking on his cell phone with his backpack hanging over one shoulder. While I don't hold a victim responsible for the crime, I do think he could have avoided being the victim of this one.

However, one of my neighbors was assaulted last week, just a block from the house here. She was walking the 3 blocks from the bus stop - 11pm at night, alone, with a purse. It's made me nervous here in my neighborhood now. I used to walk the 3 blocks to the bank, get out money I needed and walk home. Now I'm worried about who may be watching me make a withdrawal then following me home. I live in a more upscale neighborhood, and people tend to think that means you've got more money, so it does make you more of a target.

So. I still feel that Lima isn't dangerous - however, danger is relative. I don't think you stand nearly the chance of being a victim of violent crime here that you would in many other places - including most cities in the US. However, the threat of petty crime is enough to make you change your way of doing every day actions, like going to the market or paying the bills. And of course, if you're a tourist, you must be on guard for your bags, camera and so on. But don't let fear ruin your trip - be on guard, but don't be afraid.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.