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.

  • Marian Pyszko

    More lighting is nice. But the self defense laws of Colombia must change to give the individual the right to self defense, including the use of firearms.

    • Andrew

      absolutely not!

      • Marian Pyszko

        So the people of Colombia are beholden to better lights and more police for their safety??? It’s no wonder that Colombia is rife with various groups that terrorize the countryside unimpeded. No surprise no such armed groups control any lands in the USA. The right to bear arms by the citizens prevents any unlawful takeover of lands in the USA. The right to self defense is a human right!

      • Jony G

        Neither Canada or Chile or Europe or East Asian countries have rights to bare arms and these are the safest countries on the planet. The US is crime ridden and it gets worse year on year.

      • Granninni

        If law abiding citizens are armed, how does that contribute to crime?

      • James West

        Because criminals take their guns and commit crimes.

      • Wally Guevara

        Oh, I get it, now; I looked at Marian’s page – he’s a dRumpf supporter – refers to “crooked Hilary.” Of course he wants more guns; he probably owns stock in Smith & Wesson, and they’ve taken a hit since Obama didn’t “come after their guns,” like they all spouted, and demand fell.

      • Marian Pyszko

        That’s strange…No other country in the world accepts more immigrants that does the USA.. Im not seeing any guerrilla groups controlling parts of the USA either. Canada refuses to accept millions of negroes even though it is the 2nd largest country in land in the world. China, Japan, Korea too dont allow immigrants to enter. It really comes down to the number of negroes a country has; that determines the crime issue. Brazil, has a huge amount of negroes.. and the crime is off the chart there….

      • Andrew

        Well, we don’t have school shootings every week, church shootings, university shootings, concert shootings, workplace shootings and so on… What armed groups are you referring to? to the ones that don’t exist anymore like the FARC? Pleeease

      • Marian Pyszko

        Andrew, have you walked in the mountains by Parque Nacional in Bogota? Taken a stroll in Tumaco? Have you ever heard of land mines in North America? We could discuss the border region with Venezuela regarding violence too. At least 50% of the countryside in Colombia is a no go zone due to various guerrilla groups; left and right. Throw in the narcos and it’s a hot mess to say the least. Major cities like Cali, Medellin and Bogota are much safer than most USA cities for sure.. but the average campesino lives in fear. Latest numbers now show 7 million internal refugees in Colombia due to ongoing violence in the campo….

      • Andrew

        Yes I have done that and much more! The National park is great, I have lived in Colombia for 42 years with no issues or violence. 50% of the countryside? wow that would be really awful, where did you see that statistic? on a Hollywood movie? do you watch too much “Narcos”?

        I have been to many places both urban and rural with absolutely no issues, not even back in the 80s when we really had narcos and the guerrilla you talk about… or so the news said…

        Please remind me.. how many children have been killed in schools or at church, or at a concert or at the mall by a landmine again? I can’t find the number jeje

        I don’t have a need for a gun living here, never have, and I don’t know anyone that does. In fact, I haven’t seen a gun in real life, only in movies, and shootings in the US of course…

        Yes, we have a lot of random “bad guys with a gun” but we don’t need any “good guys with a gun” except for trained police and the army as it should. Guns for sport, as collectibles, as a hobby or to hunt? No thanks, we have other interests that doesn’t include killing people.

        Fun fact: I used to live in Chicago, but I had to leave because it was too insecure, and that was before Trump!

        Speaking of Trump… I went to your profile to read more of your “opinions”… I rest my case!

      • Kelly Daniels

        Jony, how convenient you compare the crime rates of countries such as Canada and Chile to the crime rates in the U.S.A. The population of Canada and Chile combined is smaller than some states in America. With over 330 million people and news organizations that splash any criminal activity on the news for days on end it must seem that crime is rampant in the states but I can assure you that this is not the case. You also state that “crime gets worse every year”, in the U.S.which is another uninformed statement. If you bother to get the FBI statistics which are published yearly you will see that crime has actually gone down in recent year in the U.S.

        Andrew argues against personal ownership of weapons and states that he “used to live in Chicago but had to leave because it was too insecure”. You might be interested to know that gun ownership in Chicago is forbidden by in that city as well as Washington D.C. another city with terrible crime rates. You might move to Mexico or Venezuela, both have strict laws against private ownership of weapons. Ask those citizens how safe they feel knowing only criminals have guns. London also banned guns from private citizens, and I have to admit that it has worked, gun homicides are almost non-existent. The problem is that stabbings went through the roof. There are more people stabbed to death in London than are shot to death in New York.

        If guns are the problem than why is Switzerland the second safest country in the world. Most every home has at least 1 weapon and many of them are military assault weapons. How about Israel? It is common to see men and women walking around with M-4 rifles slung across their backs on the streets. Where is their crime rate? Personally I was given a rifle by my father when I was 7 years old and taught to shoot at an early age. Later I went to the military service and also daily carried a weapon. After college I became a police officer and for the last 28 years I have carried a weapon. During that time I never shot or even aimed a weapon at anyone nor have I ever personally know anyone that has except in the line of duty as an officer.

        Perhaps we need to get our information from someone other than a person that confesses”I haven’t seen a gun in real life, only in movies”. That is a problem many people have, commenting on something they know nothing about and expressing an opinion that is given to them by Hollywood and the media.
        If you are interested in the real reason that crime exists I would love to have that discussion but I assure you that a gun is not it.

    • Wally Guevara

      Yeah, that’s working out *so* well in the U.S.

      • Marian Pyszko

        You don’t see any guerrilla groups in the countryside in the US do you? What about landmines in the USA? How many millions of Americans are internally displaced in the USA? Colombia currently has 7 million displaced citizens within its own country because the campesinos are not allowed to be armed.. And we wonder why people from South America walk through the Darien gap to get to the USA…..

      • Wally Guevara

        Marian, you’re off the chain. You sound a little bit unstable if you think the solution is free access to weapons. Everywhere that is true, violence escalates. You’re just so wrong.

      • Marian Pyszko

        The USA is and has been the most stable country in the world for over 200 years. No other country in the world has had an economy with a constitution as strong as the USA. It’s no wonder when given a choice millions of people from around the world want to live in America. The American dream is the reason why Colombians look north.