Even before losing basic infrastructure, the Puerto Rican crime rates were horribly high.
Puerto Rican crime in terms of violence and robbery goes hand in hand with Puerto Rican corruption in government and the resulting debt crisis. The young men who could be recruited into the police force are fleeing the island for more stable places to live in the United States. It’s hard to tell how much the hurricane has made Puerto Rican crime worse, and how much it has simply brought attention to an ongoing problem.
Here’s a story from four years ago:
The Miami Herald reports, “On the streets of San Juan, police struggle to rein in crime after Hurricane Maria.”
Crime in Puerto Rico, long an issue, has been exacerbated by a $74 billion debt crisis that left state institutions in shambles, hundreds of thousands unemployed and many residents leaving the island for Florida and other states. Puerto Rico’s finances have been supervised by a federal oversight board since 2016.[…]
An island of 3.4 million people, Puerto Rico recorded 670 homicides last year, a marked increase from 2015, although still down from the peak of 1,164 in 2011. By contrast, Miami-Dade County, with a population of 2.6 million people, had 235 homicides in 2016.
And many more people are victims of assaults, muggings and burglaries. In the past week, Puerto Rican police have reported a series of car break-ins — including one in the parking lot of the convention center where government officials and journalists are stationed — along with the theft of dozens of gallons of fuel for a generator from a San Juan supermarket, and the shooting of four women at an intersection in the middle of the afternoon.
On Tuesday night, in a residential neighborhood in Río Piedras, a man was shot in the leg after he said a car full of robbers confronted him. The remote-control gate was open because of the lack of electricity. They made off with nothing — but one assailant lost his red Nike sneaker on the pavement.
“It happens daily — and now, even more,” said Soto, as he and partner José Baerga drove to the scene.
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