Bulk of Mexican crimes are never reported: study

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 20, 2011 6:54 PM

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - About 90 percent of Mexican victims of common crime last year never contacted police, citing bureaucratic delays and general mistrust of legal authorities who solve few cases, a study by Mexico's national statistics agency found.

Victims who went to the trouble of reporting crimes like robbery, extortion, car theft and break-ins to prosecutors faced a 35 percent chance there would be no investigation of their cases, the report released on Tuesday said.

The independent statistics agency, known as Inegi, surveyed over 78,000 households across Mexico last year and found 15 percent of victims of unreported crimes said they had no faith in the authorities.

More than 33 percent said filing a complaint was too time-consuming, while more than 6 percent said they were discouraged by the hostile attitude of the police.

The tally did not include crimes associated with Mexico's drug violence and left out figures about drug trafficking, weapons possession and money laundering.

With more than 42,000 drug-related murders since President Felipe Calderon launched a frontal attack on cartels at the beginning of his term in late 2006, Mexicans are increasingly worried about the security situation.

Inegi regularly polls the public about perceptions of safety and during this year's March-April period, nearly 70 percent of the population felt insecure.

The overall cost of common crime in 2010 was 210.8 billion pesos ($16.1 billion), or 1.5 percent of the gross domestic product of Latin America's second-biggest economy.

Added security costs to prevent crime -- like putting bars on windows and doors, buying locks or guard dogs -- was 48.4 billion pesos ($3.7 billion), Inegi said.

Among Mexican adults, 24 percent were victims of common crime in 2010, which the statistics agency said was roughly in line with recent figures from England and Wales that pointed to a 21.5 percent victim rate among those 16 and older and a 27 percent rate among people 15 and older in Canada.

(Reporting by Patrick Rucker and Mica Rosenberg in Mexico City; Editing by Eric Walsh)

($1=13.1030 pesos)