Wave of robberies in shopping malls exposes public security crisis in Chile

Inflation and the economic slowdown are not the only concerns of the people of Chile. The country is experiencing a public security crisis, in which robberies in shopping centers have been one of the most visible aspects in recent weeks.

On the last day 20 ), two thefts occurred at Mall Plaza chain units. In Mall Plaza Oeste, in the commune of Cerrillos, in the Santiago region, five armed men robbed an Apple store; in the action, an employee was attacked with a butt on the head.

On the same day, in Mall Plaza Norte, located in another metropolitan commune, Huechuraba, another group, also armed, threatened customers and employees and fled taking several products from a Mac Online store.

In a statement, the Mall Plaza group expressed concern about “the high level of violence and the weapons used by the criminals” and highlighted “the criminal organization of these groups ”, with actions involving a large number of criminals and the use of “bulletproof vests and large caliber weapons”.

Although these were the cases with the greatest repercussions, others were recently registered in Chile. . This month, reports of visitors to the Costanera Center, in the commune of Providencia (also in Greater Santiago), who said they had been victims of armed robberies inside stores in the shopping center, went viral on social networks.

In October, a group of about 15 criminals robbed two mobile phone stores in the Espacio Urbano de Piedra Roja shopping center in Chicureo (Greater Santiago).

The robbers wore jumpsuits of different colors and Halloween masks, clowns and the protagonist of the comic book and film “V for Vendetta” and threatened customers with firearms, even temporarily holding some hostage.

“This is not a problem exclusive to shopping centers or commerce. It is a national phenomenon that replicates itself with increasing levels of insecurity throughout the territory”, said the president of the Chilean Chamber of Shopping Centers, Katia Tursich, last week to ADN radio.

She gave the statements after attending a meeting on the subject with representatives of the government of President Gabriel Boric, the Carabineros (the Chilean ostensible police) and the Public Ministry.

Tursich alleged that, despite the recent violent cases , shopping malls are still safer environments, but he stressed that “in terms of security, you can never be calm”. “It is an issue that affects us all as a country, there is a great perception of insecurity on the rise”, highlighted the businesswoman.

At the meeting, the Chilean government informed that it would send a bill to Congress on private security and the Carabineros announced a reinforcement of the Centauro Plan, to increase policing in shopping center areas, especially closer to Christmas.

The Undersecretary for Crime Prevention, Eduardo Vergara, representative of Boric administration at the meeting also informed that a “joint public-private task force” will be established to increase security in stores that sell high-tech and high-value products in shopping centers.

In view of the repercussions of these robberies, parliamentarians from the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), the Chilean opposition party, last week presented a bill to authorize the possession and use of firearms by security guards in shopping malls.

General crisis

Despite the greater visibility of robberies in shopping centers, the search for measures to prevent robberies indicates that the public security crisis in Chile affects the economy in general.

According to a report on the website La Tercera, more than 50% of Chilean commercial establishments have reinforced security measures this year, as almost 20% of stores in the country have already been victims of theft.

At the beginning of the week, Chilean truck drivers ended an eight-day strike after reaching an agreement with the government on the two main demands of the category, lower fuel prices and greater safety for transporters.


While on the issue of fuel, the Boric administration committed itself to seeking measures to stabilize prices, especially for truck drivers who work with smaller loads, on the issue of safety, three main commitments were defined.

An exclusive prosecutor has been appointed to investigate robberies and kidnappings suffered those by truck drivers; agreement was reached on an operational plan by the Carabineros to improve security at seven points between the cities of Arica and Coquimbo; and the construction of six rest areas for transporters in the North Macrozone along 2023 was defined.

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