Safety Tips – Motochorros
This section is provided by the Regional Security Office (RSO) of the American Embassy in Buenos Aires.
The Federal Police indicate that approximately 50 percent of reported “Smash/Snatch and Grab” type robberies that occur in Buenos Aires are perpetrated by criminals on motorcycles or commonly referred to as “Motochorros.” To counter the surge in these types of crimes, the Federal Police are establishing check points at various intersections in Belgrano, Palermo, Retiro and Villa del Parque to control the movement of these vehicles.
In the past, these “Motochorros” operated exclusively in the microcenter of the city and focused on potential victims leaving banks or ATM machines. The Federal Police report a shift and increase of reporting from the Micro Centro to other surrounding Barrios such as Belgrano, Recoleta, Palermo, and the Province of Buenos Aires (Martinez, Vicente Lopez, etc). Many of these “Smash/Snatch and Grabs” start in the city and end near General Paz or in the Province near the victim’s house. Perpetrators focus on areas with heavy traffic, large avenues, and rapid exit points to perpetrate these types of crimes. These criminals often use or possess firearms in the commission of their crimes.
The Federal Police classify 3 types of Motochorro perpetrators:
1. Planned – previous surveillance is conducted on the victim.
2. Marked – victim is marked outside or from inside of the bank – “Marcadores”
3. Opportunists – assailant grabs purses, wallets, backpacks, in the street or from a car and flees.
Some helpful tips on how to identify a “Motochorro are listed below:
Generally, the Motochorro travels on motorcycle with two riders; one with a helmet and the other without a helmet.
They typically use motorcycles with larger engines and original license plates and registration cards to avoid suspicion and to avoid being detained by police at the various checkpoints.
Safety Measure to decrease your chances of becoming a victim:
1. Avoid financial or bank transactions in cash in plain view on the street or in other public areas. Use checks or transfer funds when possible. If you must withdraw money from an ATM, never conduct business in an area in plain view of the street. Put money away prior to leaving the banking institution.
2. Don’t use taxis in front of banks. It is better to walk a few blocks first, then get a taxi.
3. When driving, avoid placing belongings on the seat next to you and keep your window rolled up. Open windows and personal items in plain view attract motochorros.
4. Watch for motorcycles going the wrong way down a one-way street or on sidewalks.
5. Stay vigilant!
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