High Crime Has Venezuelans Flocking Together

Safety in numbers


CARACAS, Venezuela — Andrea Pereira just shakes her head at how carefree she used to be, when she'd strap on her running shoes and jog alone at night in the streets of this gritty capital.

Then came the "express kidnapping" plague — ordinary people snatched off the street, sometimes in broad daylight. Homicides skyrocketed, with Caracas recording nearly 4,000 slayings last year, more than any other city in the world. Stories of robberies — and worse, robberies gone horribly, fatally wrong — became standard workplace chatter.

Pereira still jogs at night. But she goes with friends, plenty of friends — as many as 300 of them, a huffing, heaving mass of people who chug in unison along darkened streets three nights a week.