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Cuenca Ecuador Safety

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Berkeley, CA
posts: 18
reviews: 44
Cuenca Ecuador Safety

The city looks nice, and seems safe, but it isn't. I was just robbed in broad daylight in a tourist-frequented area by two robbers who stole my camera with over 250 vacation pictures from Quito, the Andes, the Galapagos, and of friends who I met. They threatened my life, then grabbed the camera from my neck. Luckily the strap broke or I would have been seriously injured.

This is not a safe town. Do not carry more money than you need. Do not carry your passport or credit cards. I made the mistake of wanting to take photos of the town. Locals said the robbers have been working the area for a while, but obviously the police haven´t stopped them. Most Cuenca residents seem very nice, but all it takes are small groups of robbers roaming the streets to make it unsafe for everyone.

I am quite upset and would like to cancel the last few days of my vacation, but that would cost me about $1k extra for another flight, so I am being very careful about where I go and what I do.

new york
posts: 231
1. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

I am a bit shocked at what happened to you. Perhaps you were alone in a desolate area.. I have been all over Ecuador and Cuenca and have never been robbed. Of course I am always aware of my surroundings and when I see a group of people I take off in the other direction....You must becareful all south america or anywhere else. A tourist is always a target even in new york city. Just be savvy and don't travel alone. Sorry this happened to you.

Berkeley, CA
posts: 18
reviews: 44
2. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

I was with my girlfriend, on the Calle Larga in late morning. I am in my sixties. My girlfriend is -- well -- an appropriate age for me to be with her. There were a lot of cars on the street and other pedestrians within a block. Two rather large guys with muscle shirts (much larger than the average Cuenca resident) approached us from around a corner and told us to give them our money and valuables or they would kill us. I told them to go away. I figured they wouldn´t carry out the threat with so many people close by. We didn´t have time to run away, and these guys were both about 18 amd most likely much faster than us. One then grabbed the camera and they both ran. I ran after them yelling ¨Ladron¨(thief) but obviously they got away. People who had been roused by my shouting said they recognized the two, who´d been working the area for some time. I called the police, who were polite but didn't take down such basic information as my name or the make and model of the camera. I also gave them some unique identifying characteristics of the robbers, but have no idea if they have been caught. How would the police tell me if they didn´t take my name? I also have to doubt the seriousness of the authorities generally given this police response.

I live and work in a dangerous metropolitan area in the U.S. and haven´t been mugged in 30 years. In Cuenca I was robbed within 72 hours of arrival. Maybe it´s just bad luck -- but, since it happened to me -- I think not. And I followed all the cautionary advice in the guidebooks, and on the websites of the U.S Consular service and the UK foreing office. It´s too bad. The authorities do a nice job in keeping the city looking good -- painting buildings, sweeping streets, etc. Even the water is said to be drinkable (although I certainly have not put that to the test.) But without being able to walk safely on a busy daytime street in the middle of the old town with others about, Cuenca definitely is not safe.

If you decide to come anyway, take all precautions and never carry anything valuable. Get a hotel with a safe and leave stuff there.

Cuenca, Ecuador
posts: 601
reviews: 18
3. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

What a terrible thing to have happen to you! There most certainly are theives in Cuenca. These two seem terribly brazen! Usually a confrontation would scare them off. From the way they were dressed and their size, they may not be from the area. I wanted to mention that not all of Calle Larga is a good place to be. Twords the west end especially between Tarqui and Padre Aguirre. The 9 de Octubre market has always been known for theives. So use caution any where near this market and twords the river, all the way to the University of Cuenca. The area is called El Vado. Cuenca is a beautifull city and for the most part the people are wonderfull.

Cambridge
posts: 70
reviews: 33
4. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

Hi Paulie47, so sorry to hear what happened to you. We have just returned from Cuenca, where we (a group of FOUR adults) were finishing off our South American trip. We were 100 yards from The Hotel Victoria on Calle Larga when a group of well dressed teenagers attacked us, they grabbed my sisters handbag, which was across her body, breaking the leather strap and throwing her to the ground where she sustained very bad bruising and cuts to her face, she was lucky not to have had her nose broken. The SCUM ran off followed by my husband (52) who (with a little help from a local) got the bag back. This all happened in BROAD daylight. This was truly a sickening experience and to be honest has spoilt our wonderful trip somewhat. I agree this city IS NOT SAFE, day or night. I have walked around NEW YORK, LONDON and lots of major cities and felt at ease, CUENCA I would NEVER go again, or recommend to anyone else. What makes things worse is that these areas are KNOWN crime areas, as told to us by the locals.........but not told to us by the hotel!!!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
posts: 925
reviews: 44
5. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

I am very sorry that some of you have had unfortunate experiences in Cuenca. I can imagine how difficult it must have been dealing both physically and emotionally with the events and their aftermaths. However, with all due respect, I have to disagree with you saying that Cuenca is an unsafe city. I studied down there during college, and after recently returning from another trip, I never felt unsafe. I was always cautious and had my guard up, but I never felt threatened (and neither did my friends/fellow students).

I know that I stuck out like a sore thumb, because I have very blonde hair and green eyes. Therefore, I always did my research on the areas I was in, and always ALWAYS carried anything valuable either in a close pocket or my money belt. A small bag was okay now and then, but it usually was only for things like a map or water bottle. However, by no means am I insinuating that any of you did not take the appropriate precautions in traveling.

I guess bottom line is that this type of thing can happen in any big city, by any ill-meaning person. Cuenca is not alone. Simply because there are mean people out there who have done this to you folks does not categorize Cuenca as "unsafe." I would hope that these events do not deter any others out there who are planning on visiting the city, but rather just remind them that Cuenca is a big city like any other, and appropriate precautions must be taken.

Cambridge
posts: 70
reviews: 33
6. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

Hi, yes we all stuck out like sore thumbs too.......I have long blonde hair, my sister is fair and our husbands look, well 50 ish (which they are) ie they both have grey hair. Didn't stop my husband from chasing the scum though, and getting the bag back.....we got help from some locals who were very sorry about what had happened.....NOT their fault they were lovely and drove us back to our hotel. I think the main problem is that reps and hotels don't warn you enough, the area is notorious for crime and had we known we would have got a taxi back from the museum instead of enjoying a walk. We didn't flaunt expensive jewellry, or carry expensive cameras, my sister had just taken off her cardigan, showing a small leather bag slung across her body. We were careful or so we thought!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
posts: 925
reviews: 44
7. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

That's so unfortunate. The hotel people really should have told you where not to go, that's not fair to you. I'm glad you got the bag back, though, and I hope the rest of your trip goes/went okay.

Cuenca, Ecuador
posts: 601
reviews: 18
8. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

It is so unfortunate that you have suffered this robbery. I am only hoping that when the bag was retrieved it taught these young men a thing or two. Maybe make them think twice before doing it again.

But I have to agree with travelingtuba. Cuenca is not extremly dangerous. I frequent the area you mentioned very often. At least once a week. We often eat lunch near there or walk that way to head down twords Supermaxi, the grocery store. Of course we will be alot more cautious from now on.

Cuenca, Ecuador
posts: 47
9. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

I, too, am very surprised by these posts. I am a single gringa living alone in Cuena. I walk all over and am yet to experience any problems at all. I've even gone out to shoot around Calle Larga with my big camera. Never had any problems in crowds nor desolate areas and have walked through Parque de la Madre at dark more than once to get to the SuperMaxi. I lived in NYC for a number of years and must admit, I never had problems there either. Distressing, but surprising, to hear of these incidents. Either you were unlucky or I have been lucky...maybe both.

California
posts: 20
reviews: 5
10. Re: Cuenca Ecuador Safety

In general, a person should be careful of thieves in any Ecuadorian city with a population of 100,000+.

The locals of Cuenca are victims of robbery too. Hernán Rodríguez Girón wrote about robbery in Cuenca's El Mercurio newspaper in early July, 2008:

"mi hijo de 13 años asaltado en el sector de la Calle Larga y Hermano Miguel por un delincuente que luego de ponerle el revólver en el estómago le gritó "dáme el celular o te mueres aquí mismo"; el joven que me pidió le acompañe luego de sufrir un intento de robo en las escalinatas frente al Parque de la Madre (osado o valiente, se enfrentó a su agresor, lo golpeó y salió corriendo); la vecina intimidada a bala por un ladrón que merodeaba el Parque Santa Anita en taxi (sus gritos de mátame, mátame, alertaron al barrio)."

from

www.elmercurio.com.ec/web/titulares.php…