Monday, February 1, 2016

Crime & Safety in Chile

The Carabinero station in Puerto Octay. You can find these offices in almost any small town always in green and white.We personally know several of the carabineros in our town and find them to be friendly and helpful. We heard that in Ecuador the police don't care about crime against gringos but it's not that way here. Our local guys stopped by our farm to welcome us and help us robber proof our farm. And you never try to bribe a carabinero. They pride themselves on honesty and integrity. It's not uncommon to find checkpoints in front of the carabinero station. They pull over every 3rd car and just check your license and to see if you have paid your local car tax. In the US, I always felt that the police were out to get you good or bad but I don't get that feeling here. Speed traps are uncommon and non-existent off the main highway and the carabineros don't engage in high speed chases to catch the bad guy.

Crime, especially theft, is notoriously bad in South America. In the cities, all the houses are behind bars. Pick pocketing and purse snatching as well as car theft are common.

We personally have not been affected by crime in the 2 1/2 years we have lived here. And honestly, I can only remember one instant in which I felt unsafe here. It was night and we were driving through a not so nice area of Santiago. There were parts of Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina we wouldn't dare go through even during the day. Jim had been almost attacked on at least 2 or 3 occasions doing appraisals in dangerous neighborhoods in the US.

Even in public housing here in our little town in the south of Chile, we feel safe. The atmosphere is different. There aren't gangs of kids hanging around with bad attitudes.

I joke that criminals in Chile are the non-confrontational kind. They may want to rob you blind but only behind your back!Violent crime is low and kidnappings and random shootings are almost unheard of.
Here are some statistics for you taken from this government website linked below and wikipedia.

For the year 2012
Murder rate is 3.1 per 100,000 and the USA is 3.8 per 100,000
That totals out to be 550 murders in Chile and 12,253 in the USA
This is the lowest homicide rate in South America.
So if safety is a concern, as it is for most of us, Chile is one of the safest places in South America.

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