My denial runs thin about crime in San Miguel

In this morning’s Civil List, the internet bulletin board shared by expats in San Miguel, there was a post about the escalating security problem. In addition to alarm, I felt curiosity about what tune the usual chorus of civic boosters, particularly the municipal authorities, would intone this time, to downplay bad news about a town whose main industry is tourism. 

Just yesterday I’d replied to an email from a blog reader, who is considering moving to San Miguel but is concerned about crime here. I spun the problem, I did, so I wouldn’t sound like a Nervous Nellie or a carrier of the Chicken Little Virus.

I said the spate of shootings and homicides are related to turf battles among narco dealers in some rougher neighborhoods, presumably removed from the nicer enclaves where expats live and go out for comidas and gallery openings. Also, crimes occurred after dark; stay off the streets and highways late at night and you should be safe.

I also said that at least crime in San Miguel, though increasing, was not random or senseless as mass shootings in the U.S., such as the massacre at the Walmart in El Paso on August 3, in which a crazy man killed 22 and wounded another 24 innocent victims.

By comparison, I said, the rise in homicide here, and in the state of Guanajuato, which has shot up to near the top of the most crime-ridden states in Mexico, seemed more like a deadly intramural game inside the narco world. Law-abiders need not worry.

But any more, I’m having problems believing my own argle-bargle.

During the Christmas shopping season, at least four stores at Plaza La Luciérnaga shopping center were held up. The owner of an interior design shop said that a couple of young guys showed up at about 10:30 a.m., hogtied the two male employees on duty and made off with a safe box they yanked from behind the counter. Not a subtle M.O.

On Tuesday morning, police found a body, apparently shot execution style, on the Prolongación Cinco de Mayo street, close to the Centro and near some of the city’s tonier streets.

Three dead, including a 13-year-old. 

That evening, unknown assailants shot up a city bus near the road to Dolores Hidalgo, the so-called “Golden Corridor” for its collection of upscale residential subdivisions, including the Las Ventanas housing and golf course. Police found three dead, including a 13-year-old kid in charge of collecting fares. The killers got away aboard a black Chevy Suburban.

Most unsettling news yet was the carjacking at gunpoint—a few minutes after noon on Wednesday—of an imposing GMC Sierra SUV, along with a Toyota Highlander, at the Glorieta El Pipil, the busiest in the city, surrounded by two major landmarks, the Mega supermarket and the Pollo Feliz restaurant. Someone witnessing the crime took a brief video that shows masked gunman forcing people out of their vehicles, getting in them and taking off, while other cars just drive by. 

The one who didn’t get away. 

The brazenness astounds, though not as much that the police actually caught the guy in the stolen GMC Sierra and arrested him, after a high-speed chase, Frank Bullitt-style, that also involved police cars from the nearby town of Comonfort, even if the driver of the Toyota Highlander did get away. Still, news of the local cops actually catching a criminal deserves special mention.

As one commenter said on the Civil List, it was “a rough day” for crime in San Miguel, though this mini-spree actually spread over two days. It also undercut my soothing spiel to out-of-towners about security problems in our town. 

From now on, I’ll just say that the weather here continues to be as close to ideal as one would find anywhere, and that, contrary to rumors about their ineptitude, the San Miguel police occasionally catch their guy.

That’s my line, and I’m sticking with it until further notice.

Photos from the Noticias con Valor website.

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