Homicides dropped 10 percent in Tijuana but the number of kidnappings skyrocketed by 60 percent, while in Rosarito Beach there were no kidnappings but murders jumped by 40 percent, according to crime statistics just released by the Baja California secretary of public safety for the first seven months of 2014.
Between January and the end of July, 286 people were murdered in Tijuana — down from 318 for the same period last year. In Rosarito, 42 deaths were classified as homicides, up from 30 in 2013.
The crime numbers were crunched by the a citizens’ council on public safety and distributed to the news media over the weekend. The council's figures compared neighborhoods, showed relative increases or drops among crime types, and revealed significant trends.
According to the council's interpretation as reported in the August 24 edition of the daily newspaper El Sol de Tijuana, with the exception of homicide, downtown Tijuana is at the top of the list for crimes such as armed robbery, commercial burglary, and auto theft.
For the month of July, for example, downtown Tijuana had more armed robberies (12), more commercial burglaries (11), and more auto thefts (30) than any other neighborhood in the city, according to the report.
In the past year, El Sol reported, there has been a concentration of crimes downtown. The newspaper blamed the crime surge on the presence of deported immigrants and also drug addicts.
Citywide, kidnappings were up from 10 for the same period last year to 16 during the first seven months of 2014 — an increase of 60 percent. Those figures do not include instances of people held captive against their will, cases in which nothing was asked in exchange for their release, which are not classified as kidnappings. From January through July of this year, there were 114 cases falling into that category.
Rosarito Beach, on the other hand, had no reported kidnappings and just 18 cases of illegally holding a person against his/her will, but a huge increase in homicides. In fact, the 42 murders reported so far this year represent the highest number of homicides in the beach resort in at least the past seven years, according to the report.
Auto thefts were up 6 percent to 285, but police said the trend over the past three months shows a steady decline.
Residential burglaries increased by 5 percent to 374, while commercial burglaries were down 28 percent to 60.
Critics of the government's crime statistics point out that the majority of crimes in Baja California go unreported and that authorities deliberately suppress the numbers for political reasons. The actual crime rate, they say, is much higher.