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I Got Mugged in Mexico (+ What To Do if it Happens to You)

mugged in mexico

For the second time in my Mexican adventure I found myself in a police station giving a statement, after being mugged in Mexico.

Nothing can really prepare you for being robbed in the dark in a foreign country. You think, oh, I’d definitely run away. I wouldn’t just stand there like an idiot before walking over to the people currently rifling through my boyfriend’s pockets. No, no, no. I’m smarter than that!

But in the event that that is exactly what you did, you think, I’d definitely just give them my stuff. Why would I want to risk my life for my iPhone? No, no, no. I wouldn’t try and stuff my phone in my knickers, only to be thwarted by the alarm reminding me to take my pill sounding on it. I then definitely wouldn’t cling onto it as they try and prise it out of my hands, all the while threatening to stab me and my boyfriend if I don’t let them win. Of course not.

You also think you wouldn’t be stupid enough to go down a dark, secluded alleyway at night. Yeah. No one’s that stupid.

Hahaha, I laugh in the face of your idealism, because yes apparently I am that stupid. Stupid and naïve and really pissed off.

mugged in mexico

Pexels

I GOT MUGGED IN MEXICO

So there we were. Phoneless, moneyless, dignity-less, on the funnily enough dark and empty Mexican street. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

There is nothing to make you feel less powerless than having your things forcefully taken from you and feeling like there’s nothing you can do about it. The whole time this was happening, I wasn’t scared, I was angry.

First of all, angry with myself. Why didn’t I run away? Why didn’t I curl up in a ball on the floor until they left me alone? Why did I take us both there in the first place? I wish I’d smashed my phone on the floor before they got a chance to peel it out of my hand.

Then, you pretty much just feel really fucking embarrassed. There’s nothing to make you feel more ashamed than realising, hey guess what, you’re not as big and clever as you thought you were. You’re actually very, very naïve. And now you’re stuck here with no way to get home. Oh and you’re sobbing in the middle of the road, and you continue sobbing in front of the lovely family that lent you and your boyfriend a phone to call the police with, a laptop to block your phone with and money to get your stupid ass home with. And gave you a tortilla to shut you up with. (Mexican stereotypes often prevail in times of tragedy.)

mugged in mexico

A few hours later, after you’ve cancelled all your debit cards, blocked your SIM and inevitably informed everyone you know on facebook that you’re an absolute idiot and please-don’t-try-to-get-in-touch-with-me-on-whatsapp-anymore, you beat yourself up just a little bit more about it.

And then you make your statement. Because your phone has GPS. In your face, thieves! I will find you and I will kill you, etc, etc. Except these are clearly people who do this shit all the time, who frequent dodgy back street phone shops and will unblock your phone in a matter of hours. So you’re back to feeling like a bit of an idiot again, really.

But perhaps the worst thing of all is that they took all your memories. Every photo you’d taken during your time in the country, as well as your friend’s memory card which you’d accidentally left in your purse. They even stole my fucking antibiotics. (Sidenote: I hope their wee goes orange, too.)

But fuck them. Fuck them because they’re cowards. Who threatens to stab a girl and her boyfriend on the street over some phones and some wallets? Cowards. Also, liars. I don’t think they were ever going to do anything to us except act tough, but you shouldn’t really piss about with threats, even the emptiest ones.

However, I have learnt many things from being mugged in Mexico. First of all, for every coward you come across, just round the corner there is literally a houseful of people willing to help you, even if the initial police response was the most lacklustre I’ve potentially ever witnessed in my life. Secondly, I’m way more productive without an iPhone glued to my hand all day every day, but this is besides the point. Finally, and perhaps most painfully of all, I’m still just a clueless idiot for the most part, with a lot more to learn.


WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET MUGGED IN MEXICO

A.K.A. I got mugged in Mexico, help!

  1. Don’t panic. You’re (hopefully) safe, you’re alive and you can replace pretty much anything and everything material that was taken, except for unbacked up photos. Damn those muggers and their memory stealing ways.
  2. Call the police. They’ll probably not do all that much except haphazardly jot down some unhelpful information about what was taken, but at least you can tell your insurance company you contacted them immediately. The number for the emergency police in Mexico is 060 and 911 will connect you to the emergency services.
  3. Figure out exactly what the thieves took. Sure, you know they took your phone and your wallet, but what exactly was in there? I’m talking, how much money, which bank cards and what IDs have they got their hands on. If they took your bag, start making a mental checklist of what was in there too, because this is all information you can use for filing an insurance claim. If you lost your Mexican VISA or your passport, your first port of call should be the Embassy of your home country, followed by immigration. You’ll need to take some other forms of ID with you, even in photocopy form.
  4. Cancel your cards and change your passwords. Do this as soon as possible after you get mugged, even knocking on someone’s door if you have to, or finding the nearest internet café. You’ll need to ring the emergency number for all the bank cards that were taken, provide some security answers and explain what happened. As for passwords, think about every app that’s on your phone and change the passwords for them all. You’re probably not too worried about your Facebook being hacked right now, but better safe than sorry, right?
  5. Inform family and friends. If they took your phone, let friends and family back home (and those in the country) know about it and give them an alternative way of getting in touch with you. Don’t forget to mention the fact that you’re OK while you’re at it either.
  6. Track your phone. If you have one of those Find my Phone apps, crank that bad boy into gear and see if you can pinpoint where the bastards who robbed it are. Downsides to this? They’ll probably have already turned it off and when they turn it back on, it’ll be to get it unblocked in a shady back alley, but…it’s worth a try!
  7. Make a formal police report. Known as denuncias in Mexico, you’ll have to go to the police station and wait around for hours to do this. They’ll likely want lots of ID, so take as many photocopies of whatever you can get your hands on and be prepared to wrangle with some classic Mexican bureaucracy. If you don’t speak Spanish, things will be sped along if you can go with someone who does.
  8. File an insurance claim. You do have insurance, right? If you don’t, well, consider this come kind of cosmic karma for not taking the necessary travel precautions and get some purchased immediately! If you do, you’ll want to find your policy, download the claims form and submit it as soon as possible, alongside all the evidence you have to support your claim. For example, receipts that prove how much replacing things will cost, plus the police report you should have filed as well.
  9. Replace what was taken. Figure out how to get some money, if you have no access to your now blocked bank cards. Alternatively, if you had a Mexican card stolen, go down to the bank for a replacement. Invest in a new phone, even if it’s slightly less app-friendly than you’re used to.

16 comments

  1. Karin 20 May, 2017 at 16:13 Reply

    I´d be so pissed off! My husband always warned me not to fight and to give up my stuff if I get mugged, but luckily it didn´t happen to me yet. But I am so much in love with my camera that I´d be totally desperate! I already got it stolen once in Cambodia and still miss the photos.

    • Lauren 20 May, 2017 at 20:42 Reply

      That’s exactly how I felt – I always thought I’d just give them my stuff, but you never know what you’ll do and how you’ll react until you’re in that situation!

  2. Cristina 20 May, 2017 at 16:18 Reply

    Ugh… so creepy… People who do that really are cowards but there’s nothing you can do about it sadly. However, the cousin of a friend of mine lives in San Salvador (!) and has been threatened by gang members sooo many times but mostly he just gets angry and convinces them to leave. How he does it? No idea! But it’s definitely not something I would be able to do hahaha.
    Anyway, I really hope this won’t happen again to you!

    • Lauren 20 May, 2017 at 20:42 Reply

      Oh god, no I wouldn’t be able to do that either! I know there are plenty of worse places than Mexico for behaviour like this though, so I count myself lucky.

  3. Karen 20 May, 2017 at 16:36 Reply

    Ugh that is awful. I know the feeling about losing stuff after my husband’s laptop got stolen when we were in spain. it’s stuff, it replacing it SUCKS. (Giving a police statement was a misery.)

    • Veronica Farrelly 13 December, 2017 at 18:29 Reply

      That’s right. Zona Rio is supposed to be “safer” than other parts of Tijuana. And DAYTIME. It was no bloody where near “dark.” People say “well it was a Saturday…” and “that’s a tourist-y area…” rubbish. Two whole years of living in East London (Hackney, Walthamstow, Leytonstone, Tower Hamlets, Brixton) I didn’t get robbed as many times as I have this past bloody MONTH.

  4. Veronica Farrelly 13 December, 2017 at 18:26 Reply

    Dark? I got my purse snatched off my shoulder in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon at about 3 in the afternoon walking down a semi-busy street!! Just going to the “7-11” for some damn bottled water!! I hung on to it for dear life because it held what was LEFT of my debit and credit cards!! And the only phone I’d just bought that even WORKS in this country (the TelCel £10 one) I figured without ANYTHING left and stranded in this 4th world den of savages I might as well be dead. But then, this past year I’ve lost so much of my savings and insurance policies that I know I’m right, if someone takes what’s left of them, including the keys to the place I was staying, they might as well kill me. That’s the kind of year I’ve been having. Maybe I was only meant to live barely 46 years on Earth, maybe that’s it. Because I not only haven’t got anyone “back home” to give me money to replace that which has been stolen, take a wild guess WHO was the ones who stole the last half of it in the first place…? My own family members recently wiped out one of my savings accounts entirely by closing it without any warning. In October. So this is why I figure I might as well let a purse thief kill me.

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