A Safety & Security Diary: Yucatan | The Truth About Mexico

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A Safety & Security Diary: Yucatan

A post by "Palabra Arriba" | http://www.thetruthaboutmexico.com

Palabra Arriba has lived in Mexico for three years, and wants his friends and family to stop worrying. To see more posts by this author, click here.

After reading through some of the excellent recent submissions here, I was thinking about the general day-to-day of the security precautions we take while living on the beach here in Yucatan. Here, then, is one made-up day, which describes our (very real) security measures, or lack thereof, the (very real) incidents we have experienced, shrunk to a (very compressed) timeline.

2:00AM: We wake up, hearing a strange noise, with barking dogs late at night. Careful surveillance and a walk out to the beach reveals nothing. Everyone in the house goes back to bed.

7:00AM: We wake up again and start the day, realizing that we have left the door from the living room to the beach open, in the dark, for five hours. Though we feel dumb, we note that nothing is stolen, and no one seems to have entered.

7:30AM: I can’t find my wallet. It’s not in the back pocket of my jeans, where it usually is.

7:34AM: I find my wallet shoved in the center console of our unlocked car, in plain view. It has been left there overnight, with three credit cards and 2,000 pesos in cash inside. Everything is intact.

9:00AM: In preparation for a trip to Merida, I find that my sneakers, which were admittedly very cool, very Northern, and very unavailable here, have turned up missing after being left outside on the sidewalk for three days. The gate at the front of our property has been broken and left open for months; we haven’t felt pressed to fix it.

10:10AM: After arriving in Merida, and leaving our car unlocked, I visit the bank to withdraw money to pay for a significant remodeling project on the house. I walk out of the bank with 75,000 pesos in my pocket. I am not nervous, as I walk the streets.

10:30AM: I return to the car, to find the police standing around my car. They have caught a thief, in the middle of breaking into our car, and by breaking in, I mean, “opening the door.” Our passports, and the comprobante for our house are untouched in the unlocked glove box. All of our other stuff is returned, and we decline when asked to press charges by the police, who treat us with professionalism and courtesy.

11:45AM: We return to our home on the beach, where we find we had forgotten to lock the guest house during our trip to Merida, leaving computers, electronics, and stereo equipment unsecured. There is not a single item out of place. We vow to pay more attention.

1:44PM: Having lost the key, I cut the lock off of one of the giant, wrought-iron protectores which cover our sliding glass doors. Ultimately, I forget to replace this lock for four days. This does not cause an issue.

2:18PM: I finally get around to adding a lock to the $2,500 worth of water purification and pressurization equipment that has been sitting in our yard for months, untouched.

Examples of our carelessness go on and on. We continue to be careless, because so far, there hasn’t been much in the way of consequences. The fact is, life here bears a lot more resemblance to growing up in Midcoast Maine, where my parents spent seven years without knowing where the key to the front door was, than to the images portrayed by the media. The US press would have you believe that Mexico is one constant, gruesome parade of grenade explosions and narco-terror, but when I look out the window, it’s not what I see. Should we be more attentive? Probably. Will something of ours get stolen, at some point? Maybe. But in the meantime, crime and fear just aren’t parts of our day-to-day lives.

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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Nancy Says:

    We aren’t quite as absentminded as you seem to be…but we have the same kind of experiences. The car gets left unlocked frequently or we forget to lock the front gate and are upstairs paying no attention for hours, that kind of thing. Today when we went to IMSS a woman saved her place on a chair with her purse and left for about 10 minutes. No one touched a thing.

  2. Theresa in Mérida Says:

    We haven’t had the same luck as you but it’s been minor stuff.Also we live in a large city. When we lived one block from the bus station, Husband forgot to 1)lock the rejas to our carport 2)lock the car 3)left his wallet and palm pilot out and on the console, we woke up to an open gate and car and his wallet and palm gone. Someone walking by couldn’t resist the opportunity. When we lived in California,someone broke into my locked car, stripped it of it’s radio, and went through all the various pockets. We also had someone also broke into our pick up truck. This was in a purely residential district and we weren’t the only ones that night we were broken into.
    When we were remodeling our current house, someone wandered in the open gate (the contractor had just left for a moment) picked up our boxed ceiling fans that the contractor had just dropped off and walked out with them. The contractor returned saw them and chased them down. Ironically, these guys had just arrived in Merida after being released from jail in Cancun for theft! They obviously weren’t good at it.
    When I lived in California I had my apartment burglarized twice, and when I lived in Las Vegas I also had my house burglarized twice while we were on vacation. The police say that is common, the thieves like to come back when they think you have replaced your stuff, the thieves in LV also totally ransacked my house while searching for hidden stuff. We had dead bolts on all the doors, they broke the doors! We also had our neighbors cut a hole in the fence into our storage shed and steal all our stuff when they moved out!
    In my experience crime here is more a matter of opportunity rather than something planned.

  3. workinggringos Says:

    Once on the way home from the airport here in Merida, my husband left his backpack in the taxi. We called the next day and the taxi driver still had it… was waiting for us to call. Money, bottle of wine, etc. was still in the backpack.

    A similar thing happened on a taxi ride in Manhattan… my daughter left her purse. Five minutes later we called. Sorry, gone.

  4. TXfemmom Says:

    There are good and bad people everywhere. I know the small stuff happens, and the bad stuff happens everywhere.

    The only thing that would concern me about Mexico at this time would be in regards to being at the wrong place at the wrong time and getting caught in the crossfire of some drug thing…and believe me I worry about the same thing right here in the United States of America.

    I do wonder, at times, whether extra whatever they are called in Mexico might become targets, as in everyone there thinks they are rich, or must be.

  5. Palabra Says:

    Asked and answered, TXfemmom…there is no more likelihood of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time” here, than there is in the US. There are wrong places and wrong times EVERYWHERE, but Mexico’s seem to be getting more than their fair share of press coverage, lately.

    thanks for reading!

  6. Wade Says:

    Had a great time for 2 weeks in Feb. traveling around the Yucatan. I loved it so much I bought some land just outside Chuburna. The only bad thing was a so called builder I gave a deposit to build my house scamed me. Some info on good builders that can be trusted in the area will help me out and maybe a wright up about real estate scams & fraudulent home builders might help to prevent this from happening to someone else. Thank-you —Wade

  7. Berta Says:

    We live in Merida and a couple months ago went out to run some errands and didn’t realize that our electric gates had not closed. Our front door was not locked either. No one entered our property while we were gone. Merida has a reputation of being one of the safest cities in the world. In fact, you cannot travel more than a block or two without seeing a policeman – we have local, state, federal, and tourist police here and they are very visible. We never felt this secure when living in upscale Chicago suburbs. Mexico is certainly getting a “bad rap.”

  8. Mark Arbour Says:

    Hello Wade,

    I have three properties in Mexico and one in Merida. I am sorry to hear that you were taken advantage of by a dishonest contractor. I can certainly provide you with the name of a very honest architect/contractor who has done a great deal of work on my home at reasonable prices. He also built my partners home in Merida.

    I am Canadian but I own two companies in Merida and have many business connections. If I can be of any assitance please let me know.

    You can contact me directly at via email at: marka@meridacapitalinvestments.ca



  9. Body Pillow · Says:

    beach houses are really nice and it would always be a warm and relaxing place *'”

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