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The cost of living in a high crime area

August 24th, 2009 at 02:53 pm

I use the term "area" loosely. I don't have data about the crime in specific area that I live in, but, the data for the country says a lot...

as per the last census (2007), ES has 5.74 million inhabitants. Last year, statistics said there were 10 murders per day, on average. That means there were well over 3,000 murders in 2008. This year, the numbers are still in dispute, but, it is said to be between 12 and 13 - that's DAILY.

Las week, there was an article in the newspaper about how much we pay for security and, although it did not mention specific dollar amounts, it really got me thinking...because, the writer mentioned how we don't even think about this as an extraordinary expense anymore. And, he's right.

He talked about how all new housing developments are enclosed communities (like mine), with an armed guard at each door (like mine, montly cost per house is $15), with designated entrances and exits (like mine), with houses with bars on every window (like mine) and with prohibitions to set up businesses in them so as to avoid traffic of unknown persons (not in mine, but, I've seen neighborhoods with signs stating that businesses are forbidden, and, I've also heard about communities where you need to have 2 written recommendations from homeowners to be allowed to buy or rent!).

Now, if your house is NOT in a gated community, it is most probably surrounded by a BIG wall, complete with electrified razor wire AND an armed guard.

We pay for all this, yet, we don't really "see" it... that is, we are so used to it by now, we don't consider it extraordinary.

We also pay more for transportation because public transportation is dangerous. (over 320 bus drivers have been killed for refusing to pay "rent" to the gangs- that's what they call it, it's money the bus owners or bus drivers must pay the gang to be able to operate on "their" streets) That, of course, doesn't mean the people riding the bus won't get mugged, it just means they won't get killed (as long as they "willingly" surrender their possessions) and the bus won't get burnt.

Not that you are immune if you ride a car, though, both my niece and my best friend were robbed at gunpoint while waiting for the traffic lights to turn green at different points of the city! Niece had to give them her watch and earrings, friend had to give them her cellphone... Oh, and there HAVE been people killed just for freaking out and NOT surrendering their cellphones!

Ever heard of an "express kidnapping"? They take you on a tour of different ATM's so you may withdraw money from your accounts for them... NICE!

Years ago, before ATM's, they'd target family groups and, they would drive to the bank so you could cash a check while they held your family in the car... so, my Mom taught me to write down all my checks, but, never the balance...to this day, I balance my checkbook at home, in a notebook, rather than in the checkbook!

I also signed up for the debit card that only lets you withdraw $150 in cash every 24 hours...

I've been thinking about all this a lot lately, and, I've come to the conclusion that I live as a hostage!!!

16 Responses to “The cost of living in a high crime area”

  1. whitestripe Says:

    wow, that's full on. the area the we bought in we consider a high crime area (as there are lots of homeless and delinquent youths). in saying that, it is NOTHING like what you describe in your area. the extent of our security is window locks. Big Grin and we only got them because i can't sleep with the windows open and DF wants the windows open in summer. we do not have a fence even (though i want one - i have a fear of home invasion).

  2. miclason Says:

    Well, thankfully, my neighborhood is not in the "really" bad places. there are neighborhoods where the gangs have established a curfew for the neighbors!! (so, it really is difficult for me to think about moving out of my house, as security IS a great concern, and, I'd have to really consider moving someplace else!)

  3. dmontngrey Says:

    Oh my goodness that's really scary to me! I couldn't even imagine! I grew up with what I consider a REALLY sheltered life in New Hampshire. Nothing bad ever happened where I lived. Several years ago there was a murder in the next town over from where I grew up, and that was HUGE news. My upbringing has caused a strange state of mind for me and I prefer to live in my "safe" little fantasy world where there is no bad - even though it's very much all around me where I live now. There was a murder across the street from here a month after we moved in, and I've had small things stolen from outside. So sorry you live in a society with such fear. I really can NOT imagine!

  4. fern Says:

    That's terrible. If you move, maybe you should move out of the country. I live in a very safe town, and that's the way i like it.

  5. miclason Says:

    The strange thing is, this all seems so normal, there's no sense of fear, unless I leave my sheltered little corner. And, in fact, the guards with the rifles make us feel SAFE, not unsafe...I guess we got used to it during the war... also, although I don't think anyone has the statistics (they probably weren't too reliable!) for the war years, I'm willing to bet we have more violent crimes now... Frown

  6. lizajane Says:

    This is fascinating to me. I've always lived in safe areas, and I can't imagine it any other way, so it's interesting/bizarre to me how this has become "normal" for you. I guess you adapt to your environment, whatever it may be.

  7. Broken Arrow Says:

    This is a terrific post! I've never really thought of it that way. I grew up in relatively safe neighborhoods, and being a guy who has always believed could take care of himself, never considered the kind of costs for security that other people have had to pay.

    I really don't know what to say for people who live in fear like that. I'm very sorry to hear that.

  8. monkeymama Says:

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    I think it's all relative. Many wouldn't live in a city like I do, due to the *high crime.* (Which is ridiculous considering your story). Though I have lived all my life in 2 very different cities - they are both VERY similar. Small farming towns with HUGE population growth in a short amount of time. Which does breed a lot of crime.

    Thing is, most of it is property crime. We really don't have a lot of voilent crime. City is 500k people, with suburbs it is about 2 million. I looked up statistics out of curiosity. 50 murders in 2006 (I believe this was just for the city itself - and the city is probably where most the murders occured). But let's face it, 90% of the murders are domestic voilence anyway. Chance of being randomly murdered are slim. (Chance of vehicle theft, on the other hand, is sky high here).

    In both cities, police force was very good. As long as we have the resources to keep the police, I am fine and feel secure. Much of the crime you described also happens in my backyard, but only rarely. (A few people in the area robbed by gunpoint; one at a stoplight). But heck, my parents were robbed at gunpoint in their smalltown Kansas hometown, in the 1970s. (My great-grandma was raped in a small KAnsas town, 1920s; bore a child in her teens). IT can happen anywhere. (On the flip side don't know any victims of any violent crimes or gun crimes here, having lived here 32 years).

    Anyway, we have had some small spike of crime in our area last summer and the police REALLY nipped it in the bud. For that, I Feel secure. OThers refer to the area as a "ghetto" and are scared they will be shot in their homes (dramatic, much?). I can only think of one murder in 8 years, in our vicinity. I have a friend who lived here a few years, and moved back to Canada. IT is quite clear she thinks I am delusional - her old neighbors have told her the place has turned ghetto and she worries about my safety. (I just roll my eyes!!!) We've discussed it much because she may move back to the area. I told her nothing has changed, but her old neighbors/friends scared her out of moving back!

    On the flip side, I traveled to Japan in 2007 and it was very surreal. IT was absolutely amazing to me how safe such a highly populated area (Tokyo) was. They pointed out how they had no access to guns, and had strict laws, so that the place was very safe. (Us crazy Americans with our guns!) I thought a lot about if I would prefer that lifestyle or if I prefer our freedoms in America. I think I prefer our freedoms. If someone close to me died from a gun crime though, I could definitely see preferring a place like Tokyo.

    You are most definitely a hostage. For all my neighbors' fears, they wouldn't last 2 minutes in your shoes. What a perspective!

  9. monkeymama Says:

    P.S. I work in a pretty terrible area of the city. LOTS of prostitution and drugs. Constant vandalism due to large transient population. I see prostitutes almost every single day, right outside my window. Thing is, not a lot of violent crime here. I rarely am here alone, and wouldn't hang out at night. BUT, during the day, there isn't much to be fearful of. Those outside the law tend to keep to themselves.

    I am not thrilled with the location, but my boss has been here 30 years without incident. I am sure there is a bit of a false sense of security. But this is probably another reason I roll my eyes at the idea that my home is in a "ghetto." At my home I don't see prostitutes, drug deals, and transients!

  10. Ima saver Says:

    That is so scary to live like that. I live in a small town and a woman was abducted 2 weeks ago. that is the first abduction I have heard of in the 25 years I have lived here. It is making the national news.

  11. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing about ES. My mom hates where I live right now - thinks it is not a good place to live. Compared to what is going on where you live, I am in safety heaven.

  12. miclason Says:

    LOL! everything is relative, isn't it?

    One thing that always goes through my mind when I see thriller movies is: what use is a lock on a GLASS DOOR????

  13. miclason Says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention...even in our enclosed neighborhood with the guards and the bars on all windows, some neighbors have closed off their garages!! (I understand building a roof over the parking area, that protects the cars from the sun and the rain...)

  14. miclason Says:

    A funny look at the crime rate!
    http://www.laprensagrafica.com/opinion/caricatura/55759-car...

    This was yesterday's cartoon. The title is: The Minister's math (meaning the Minister of Public Safety) and, the teacher is asking the class> "Anyone care to help Manuelito with this rule of three?" (referring to their inability (or unwillingness?) to give the public the data of average of daily murders!

  15. Jerry Says:

    320 sounds like an outrageous number. That is absolutely horrifying. I can't imagine living in those circumstances. It sounds like a war and I'm sure it leads people to not want to leave their homes. Your only insurance is to stay at home, I would imagine people think.
    Jerry

  16. Analise Says:

    I just read your post and it reminds me of my most recent visit to El Salvador. We were there in December of 2008. Even though my family lives in a "safer" neighborhood, we were told not to go out for a walk beyond the gates unless we had the armed bodyguard with us.

    When we got back home (USA), I was newly thankful for the simple act of being able to step out my front door and go for a walk or a bike ride without fear of being mugged or kidnapped. We do tend to take safety for granted, just as we take living as a "hostage" for granted when it becomes part of the daily fabric of our lives.

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