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A security camera catches looters in a store in Chimalhuacan, México state. A security camera catches looters in a store in Chimalhuacan, México state.

Pandemic used as pretext to promote looting on social media

Calls to steal cellphones, household appliances and clothing have appeared on Facebook pages

As Mexico is hit by the global coronavirus pandemic, criminal groups are using social media to call for looting of department and convenience stores including Bodega Aurrera, Elektra, Coppel, and Walmart.

Calls to steal TV screens, cellphones, household appliances, clothing, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and food have been made on social media in several parts of the country, and violent break-ins of stores have been reported in Oaxaca, Mexico City and México state.

On Wednesday morning, in the municipality of Herreros in México state, a group of approximately 15 men broke into a department store and stole TVs, cell phones and a motorcycle before fleeing on mopeds. Police sources said the men were wearing face masks.

Another department store in the neighboring municipality of Texcoco was looted Wednesday evening, with a group taking screens and cellphones.

On the same day in the municipality of Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán in the city of Oaxaca, four people were detained after a group violently broke into a Chedraui supermarket.

In Mexico City, 23 robberies have been reported in 10 municipalities, with 19 reports across 10 municipalities in México state.

Authorities in México state said they have identified 45 Facebook profiles of people acting as administrators of pages or groups promoting looting. They said that 41 had previously been involved in looting during the 2018 federal election period and in 2017 in response to a gasoline price hike. In Mexico City, the cyber-crimes police force located seven Facebook profiles in the same network.

Authorities in the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatán and Guanajuato have also said they detected individuals and groups on social networks that promote theft and incite disorder.

Police in Mexico City told El Universal that most of these groups share an ideology in which looting or pillaging activities are considered a right of citizens as a consequence of the Covid-19 prevention measures.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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