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