Petty theft in Mexico City
My sister-in-law and niece were robbed at gunpoint over the weekend while riding in a collective taxi (aka "Combi") near their home in the northwest suburbs of Mexico City (Naucalpan). Combis, or collectivo taxis, are typically minivans which run along a fixed route picking up passengers at a low fare. You can recognize them by their listed route ("ruta") on the front windshield in paint.
Their cell phones and cash were taken; fortunately nobody was hurt. The thieves jumped into the minivan at a stoplight, brandished their weapons and relieved everybody on board including the driver of their valuables.
Unfortunately this is a common crime that Mexicans live with every day.
I post this as a reminder that while Mexico City is generally safe for tourists that stay within the tourist zones, it is still prudent to take some basic precautions - most of which are applicable no matter where you travel in the world.
- If you take a taxi, take it from a fixed taxi stand (Sitio) or have your hotel/restaurant call you a "Radio Taxi". Riding in a gypsy cab is just asking for trouble.
- Lock the doors and keep the windows rolled up when in a private car or taxi.
- Keep a list of your passport numbers, credit card numbers and international direct dial phone numbers of your credit card companies on a list you can easily access in case of loss or theft. What I usually do is scan the first page of my passport and e-mail it to myself along with my credit card into. That way I can get to it anywhere in the world as long as I can get online.
- Know how to contact your cell phone company sp they can turn your cell phone into a brick in case of loss or theft. Put a strong password on your cell phone (I have a 9 character password on my iPhone) rather than the weak 4 digit codes most people use IF they use a password at all.
- Make note of your nation's embassy or consulate telephone number in case your passport is lost or stolen. Having a copy of the photo page of your passport will help expedite replacement.
- Don't flash cash or valuables.
- I'm a photographer but I minimize my camera equipment when traveling.
- Use ATMs inside banks or inside secure rooms outside of banks. Do not use ATMs after dark.
- Do not resist a thief. Your stuff can be replaced. You can't.