TIJUANA – The number of homicides in the city dropped significantly last year in compared to 2011 but common crimes, such as auto theft, reached unprecedented numbers.
The state Attorney General’s Office logged 476 killings in 2011, 344 fewer than the previous year. An estimated 80 percent of them involved territorial disputes among drug dealers, state authorities said.
Even so, the number of murders is the fourth highest on record for Tijuana, followed by 843 in 2008, 664 in 2009, and 820 in 2010.
However, various studies show that while the number of killings dropped in Tijuana and the rest of Baja California, other crimes were going up.
Baja California had the fourth highest crime rate in Mexico, according to the National Survey of Victimization and Perception about Public Safety, released by Mexico’s agency for statistics, known as Inegi. The state had 30,753 crimes per 100,000 residents during 2011, according to the agency. That’s below Aguascalientes (36,000 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants), Chihuahua (34,000 crimes) and Mexico City (32,000 crimes).
The study also showed that impunity had settled in Baja California, despite the presence of federal and military forces.
Only 19 per cent of serious crimes, such as assaults, extortion, auto or home robberies, were reported to authorities in the state, according to the study. In Tijuana, where half of the state’s population lives, that rate was 26 per cent.
Mos people, however, considered reporting a crime a waste of time or did not trust authorities, the study said.
In October, Gen. Alfonso Duarte, commander of the Second Military Region, said that crimes occurring most frequently in the area were common ones, such as auto theft, which had gone up 300 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010.
Another study, from the Citizens Institute, placed Baja California in third place (behind Chihuahua and Sinaloa) in a ranking of the 10 cities with the most crime in Mexico.
The commander of the Second Military Zone, Gilberto Landeros, and State Attorney General Rommel Moreno agreed on the reason the rate of ordinary crimes increased.
They said that while military and police forces focused on fighting high-profile drug murders in the last few years – which is what people demanded -- they neglected common crimes.
In the second half of last year, state authorities launched a campaign across Tijuana against robbery and to encourage residents to report crime.