14ymedio, Havana, January 14, 2022 — Just two weeks ago the Ministry of the Interior described social media accounts of stolen electric motorcycles as “fake news,” but actions by authorities in Camagüey now contradict this claim.
On Thursday state television reported the arrest of several individuals for theft of motorcycles using violent means. Though it did not provide exact figures on how many cases of theft were recorded in the city, how many people were arrested or when the assaults took place, the news report confirms that there has been a breakdown in “law and order,” something the Government tried to deny on January 2 when it claimed the high level of public safety the country allegedly enjoys is “one of the triumphs of the Cuban Revolution.”
According an agent with the Provincial Criminal Investigative Unit, the perpetrators’ method involves first choosing their victims, then following them at night and, “using violence and intimidation,” robbing them at knifepoint.
Faced with a growing number of victims filing complaints, the police set up a response team to investigate what the television news broadcast described as nine incidents of stolen motorcycles. It is very common in crimes like these for thieves to dismantle the vehicles and sell their parts.
The New Year’s celebrations saw a rise in the number of reported cases of assault, which has alarmed many citizens. Armed robberies, stolen gold chains and cell phones, and the theft of electric motorcycles are some of the increasingly common crimes taking place on Cuban streets.
Some social media posts, especially those by motorcycle clubs, report armed robbery of electric motorcycles. “It’s best to avoid intersections with traffic lights,” they warn. One of the videos circulating online shows a man driving one of these vehicles being assaulted when he stops for a red light. He is thrown to the ground as the thieves ride off with his motorcycle.
Alvaro Alvarez, member of a Facebook group called All about Electric Motorcycles in Havana, posted an account of how he was assaulted at the stop light at 51st and 76th streets in the Marianao district. According to Alvarez, the assailant, who was brandishing a knife, stole his motorcycle. The victim had been using the motorcycle to support his family by working as a courier.
Alvarez proposed motorcycle owners form a caravan to protest in front of the Attorney General’s office or another public place to draw attention to the crime problem and the growing wave of assaults.
According to the latest official statistics, the Interior Ministry received 468 criminal complaints of armed robbery of electric motorcycles between between January and November of 2021. Only 60% of those, or 281 cases, were resolved and only 186 motorcycles were recovered.
As of January 1, almost 200,000 electric motorcycles were in circulation throughout the country.
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