How Not To Be a Crime Victim
How Can I Avoid Being a Victim of Crime in Yucatan?
Thousands of travelers visit the Yucatan Peninsula every year without incident. This does not mean that crime does not happen however. Here are some common sense tips to reduce the chance of being a victim of crime.
Personal Safety: Travelers should be aware of their surroundings at all times, even in areas generally considered safe. Women traveling alone are especially vulnerable and should exercise caution, particularly at night.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs): Visitors should be very cautious in general when using ATMs. If an ATM must be used, it should be accessed only during the business hours at large protected facilities (preferably inside commercial establishments, rather than at glass-enclosed, highly visible ATMs on streets).
Driving: Travelers should exercise caution at all times, avoid traveling at night, and may wish to use toll (“cuota”) roads rather than the less secure “free” (“libre”) roads whenever possible. Keep your car doors locked and your windows up while driving. When in heavy traffic or when stopped in traffic, leave enough room between vehicles to maneuver and escape, if necessary. In addition, you should not hitchhike with, accept rides from, or offer rides to, strangers. You should avoid hiking alone in backcountry areas, and walking alone on lightly-frequented beaches, ruins, or trails.
Harassment/Extortion: We occasionally receive reports of extortion by real and supposed Mexican police officers. You can minimize your vulnerability by obeying Mexican law. As in the United States, you can be arrested in Mexico for acts such as public drunkenness; drunken or reckless driving; public urination or indecent exposure; fighting; lewd or lascivious conduct; or possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana. If you are stopped by a police officer in Mexico, be aware that they cannot legally accept cash payments for fines, and that offering a bribe to an officer is a serious crime. In addition, tourists should be wary of persons representing themselves as police officers or other officials. When in doubt, ask for identification.
If you are the victim of police extortion, please contact us. To file a complaint, it is helpful, but not absolutely necessary, to have the officer’s name, badge number, and patrol car number. If you were not able to obtain those, it may still be possible to identify the officer based on physical appearance and the time and place that the event occurred.
Phone Scams: It is increasingly common for extortionists to call prospective victims on the telephone, often posing as law enforcement or other officials, and demand payments in return for the release of an arrested family member, or to supposedly forestall a kidnapping. Persons receiving such calls should be wary, as many such demands or threats are baseless, and should attempt to directly contact the family member as soon as possible. If you cannot reach the missing individual, and believe he or she may have run afoul of criminals or of the law, please contact the Consul in Merida.
For additional information, travelers should refer to the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Mexico, the latest Travel Warning for Mexico, and “Help for American Victims of Crime Overseas.”