With Caracas Police Gone, Bank Robberies Up: Report

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A report by El Universal highlights how “motobanquistas” — armed men who, by motorbike, rob civilians who’ve just withdrawn cash — operate in Venezuela’s capital.

According to data from Venezuela’s main criminal investigative body, known as the CICPC (Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas), there are four such gangs operating in four neighborhoods in Caracas, El Universal reports.

Each gang has at least six members. The “lookouts” are responsible for scouting the banks and picking out potential victims who withdraw signficant amounts of cash. The lookouts describe the victim’s appearance to their accomplices: usually, two armed men on a motorcycle, who then commit the robbery.

CICPC statistics say that at least four such robberies happen every day in Caracas, according to El Universal.

An unnamed police source in the article complains that “motobanquista” thefts have become more common since the dissolution of the Caracas Metropolitan Police (PM) earlier this year. The city police are supposed to be replaced by the National Bolivarian Police (PNB), currently active in several neighborhoods in Caracas. Evidence suggests that the PNB deployment has already had some success in reducing crime rates: in one neighborhood, Sucre, crime dropped by over 50 percent since the PNB became active, reports El Nacional. According to the director of the PNB, murder rates have decreased 60 percent in areas under PNB jurisdiction.

The new police force is meant to expand its presence outside Caracas in mid-2012. There are reportedly 11,500 new agents currently in training.

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