The sadistic shooting last month of 30-year old Adriana Sobrero, as she entered the garage of her apartment building in affluent Rosales, set off alarm bells regarding a crime wave sweeping Bogotá. What made this crime so heinous – compared to others that take place everyday in the capital – is that Sobrero was pregnant when four assailants ambushed her in a car jacking. When the victim tried to resist, just meters from the electronic gate of her apartment near the Carrera Cuarta, she was shot three times at close range.
The victim was rushed to the Clinica del Country, where doctors stablized her trauma and managed to save her baby. This incident outraged Bogotanos, tired of insecurity on the street and near their homes. Mayor Enrique Peñalosa decried the attack, referring to the criminals “as of the worst kind and miserable.” Bogotá’s Security Secretary, Daniel Mejía, and Metropolitan Police offered a $15 million pesos (USD$5,500) reward for information leading to arrests.
According to the police, 410 closed-circuit cameras registered the incident, faces of the attackers, and route of the stolen vehicle. The cameras are all located within a radius of 30 blocks of the attack. The images also show how the victim was followed to her home.
“What happened in Los Rosales is not an isolated event,” remarked Juan Felipe Namén, Edil of the Chapinero locality. “We must improve street lighting and increase police presence.” Namén helped organize a candlelight vigil on the emblematic Carrera Séptima to protest the precarious security situation in Rosales.
Less than a week after Sobrero’s near-fatal shooting, security forces captured a 32-year old male believed to be a member of a crime syndicate. Two more assailants were arrested at the end of January.
Responding to a request by Mayor Peñalosa to boost the capital’s security force, President Juan Manuel Santos authorized an additional 500 police to Bogotá who are being trained “as of now.” Santos also announced the creation of a special task force of the Attorney General’s Office to combat property crimes that include burglary, larceny and auto theft.
With Rosales in the grip of insecurity, Peñalosa has banned for three months, male pillion passengers (parrilleros) above the age of 14, on motorcycles. As Sobrero’s crime was perpetrated by at least two male suspects riding on one bike, the measure that went into effect February 2, covers a large portion of the capital: from Calle 100 in the north, to Primero de Mayo in the south, Carrera 68 as the western limit and eastern Cerros Orientales. Drivers stopped by police with a parrillero face heavy fines and the immobilization of the motorcycle.
Another way to deter criminals is to invest in closed-circuit surveillance. Bogotá currently counts on 1,551 cameras connected to the capital’s first response center – Cosec. By the end of his term in 2019 as mayor, Peñalosa wants closed camera surveillance in this city of nine million inhabitants to total 4,000, facilitating even greater coverage of parks, bridges, and neighborhoods.
Bogotá is still a far cry from London and Beijing, the most watched-upon cities in the world, where a person is captured 300 times a day on cameras. If Peñalosa has his way, Bogotá will have even greater coverage by 2019, and a necessary move given the surge in crime, especially within the capital’s mass transit system – TransMilenio.
A statement released in January by Bogotá’s Metropolitan Police warned citizens to be more vigilant in TransMilenio to avoid being mugged. The stations were most muggings are reported are: Portal del Norte, Banderas, Calle 63, Calle 100, Marly, Avenida Jiménez and Restrepo. In 2017, police officials arrested 1,909 personas on charges of theft within the city’s transportation system.
Bogotá has a police force of 19,000, but according to security secretariat Mejía, an additional 9,000 are needed.