SANTIAGO – Four members of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s security detail were relieved of their duties after unknown thieves stole weapons and other items from inside their vehicle while they were having coffee at a gasoline station, authorities said Wednesday.
The agents – all members of the Carabineros, Chile’s militarized police – were the advance party of the security detail of the president, who on Wednesday was participating in several events in the towns of Olmue and La Ligua, in the coastal region of Valparaiso.
According to police, while the agents were inside the gas station getting coffee, thieves broke into their SUV and stole the weapons, various radio transmitters and clothing, among other items.
A captain identified as Cristian Jones Benavente and three other agents were removed from their duties after the theft of two weapons, two radios and various credentials in Lampa, a town near Santiago, authorities said.
Interior Minister Jorge Burgos told reporters that he spoke with the head of the Carabineros, Gustavo Gonzalez, and asked him to take exemplary measures in the case.
The incident occurred at 7 a.m. outside the food shop at a gasoline station located on the Cinco Norte highway, the sources said.
Police launched an operation in the area, assisted by helicopters, to try and track down the thieves, and authorities are reviewing film from the gas station’s security cameras.
One of the main criticisms of Bachelet’s government among Chileans is the relative lack of results obtained in the fight against crime. The president’s approval rating in a survey published Wednesday by the Adimark consulting firm, showed that 72 percent of those polled disapprove of the way she is doing her job.