For weeks, there has been a strong police presence on the streets of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, the stay at home and social distancing, homicides have actually increased compared to last year.
According to the director of the Organism of Judicial Investigation (OIJ), Wálter Espinoza, from January 1, 2020, to May 6, there have been 191 homicides, while in the same period in 2019, there were 187.
Of these 191 homicides, 167 of the victimes were men and 20 women.
The reasons? According to the OIJ:
- Settling of scores: 99
- Commission for another crime: 16
- Domestic violence: 12
- Repel criminal activity: 8
- Sicario (contract killing): 2
- Not determined: 16
The OIJ chief stated that:
- 136 homicides were committed with a firearm, 26 with a bladed weapon (arma blanca in Spanish), and in 29 other weapons were used.
- There were 8 double homicides, 3 triples, and one homicide case with 5 victims.
- 5 people died as collateral victims, that is, they were innocent, being at the wrong place and the wrong time, they were not the target. The cases occurred in Limón (2), Batán, Coronado and Cartago.
- 8 people were found murdered who were tied up and 4 burned.
The homicide solves rate is 70% and is around 6 months, according to OIJ data.
The behavior in the provinces, according to OIJ, has also been interesting and variable. So far, the province of San José has 53 homicides, while the year before the same period it had 70.
Limón follows with 50 homicides, Puntarenas 30, Alajuela 31, Guanacaste 13, Heredia 8 and Cartago 6, which also had a significant reduction.
For Espinoza, it is striking that the numbers increased despite the restrictions, the increased police presence and social distancing (little contact with people on the streets).
What does this mean?
“That means that our society is violent, that our society has troubled circumstances, that there is a very high availability of firearms and that the concern that exists regarding this issue must be maintained,” said Wálter Espinoza.
On the other hand, authorities assure that the number of robberies and thefts did drop, but not necessarily because they are not happening.
Espinoza pointed out that this is attributed to the fact that many people do not report the crimes.
“Yes, it is possible that they have been less because of the small number of people on the street and people staying in (at home), but also because people do not want to leave their homes to report for fear of catching the disease,” said Espinoza.
Authorities hope that, after the pandemic, there will be an increase in reports of these crimes.