It’s been four months since Hurricane Maria made landfall and many residents of San Juan, Puerto Rico are still without power. While the lack of power is a major issue, many residents fear for their safety with the rapid spike in crime.
Even though the more remote areas were hit the hardest by the storm, many in the metropolitan area still suffered the power loss. Ada Torres is one of the people affected in the area. She told NBC News that she has always felt safe in her home. However, that has drastically changed as of late.
“You work hard in life to ensure the well-being of your family,” she said. “In my case, we made sure that we have gates surrounding our house, that we have security cameras in place. But on Sept. 6, all of that collapsed.”
About 67% of burglaries can be avoided by the installation of security cameras. However, the cameras are only able to prevent those burglaries when there is power. Due to the increases in crime and reduction of officers on the streets, many people have had to restructure their lives.
To do this, Torres says she and her family are home together by 6:00 p.m. each night. This is their plan until the power is restored. During the first two weeks of this year, Puerto Rico has seen an increase in murders, carjackings, and burglaries. The police department in Puerto Rico says there have been 43 murders so far, which is 21 more than in 2017. Because of these numbers, many people in the area have been trying to find ways to prevent the crime and protect themselves.
A resident says they plan to just activate their car alarm if something were to happen. Then, they’ll just hope someone will hear it and come to the rescue. Others have chained their gates and doors and have even installed motion sensor lights outside to alert them when someone walks by. Homes have had generators stolen from them, which are necessary items, especially for those who are sick. Residents have been trying to do everything in their power to save their lifelines.
Thousands of police officers around Puerto Rico have called in sick as a way to protest not being paid for their hurricane overtime work. Hector Pesquera, Public Safety Secretary, says that the officers will be paid back “little by little,” but it’s unclear when they will be fully repaid.
As of Monday, January 22, somewhere between 450,000 to 460,000 of Puerto Rico’s Power Authority subscribers are still without power. It is not yet clear when that power will be restored.