Mexico is a wonderful country with so many positive aspects. Until this moment when we got robbed, we had been very lucky and never had any trouble, but problems are part of the adventure. Here we have had a very deep insight of what is this country, an experience that will make us grow and that we won’t forget.
LIFE IS GOOD IN MEXICO
We were sharing a house with a friend of Couchsurfing in one of the most amazing place we have been in Mexico, called Sayulita on the Pacific coast of the country. This little village of approximately 4000 inhabitants is a little paradise on earth! There is so much we could tell about this place and we should definitely write an article about it! It’s a surf town with indigenous roots (the Huichols), here the positive attitude vibrates everywhere and life is a real pleasure…
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
This weekend we were invited by some friends of Couchsurfing to go a turtle camp in Puerto Vallarta and then go to another remote paradise town called Yellapa. We left our belongings at our place in Sayulita and hid are valuables under our mattress. The experience helping the turtles to lay their eggs was unbelievable and Yellapa was amazingly beautiful.
While we were there, our roomie texted us saying that she had invited someone to stay at our place. At this moment Anne-Laure said we should come back because even if we trusted our roomie we didn’t know who that girl was and anything could happen. I thought differently, as always very positive, what could ever happen? It’s Sayulita! We have our little fairy that protects us from all the bad things… and on the other hand we had planned some amazing hiking in the jungle, with mountains and waterfalls. And someone we had met in Yellapa had hooked us with a person who lives on a desert beach, 30 minutes boat ride further away in the bay of Banderas. We thought positive and decided to stay, to enjoy.
When we got home, the front door was unlocked, we went straight for the bed… and all our stuffs were gone!! Anne-Laure went crazy, I was relaxed and wouldn’t believe it was true. We called our roomie, she was away doing some shopping. We asked if she had moved our stuff, she asked if the girl’s backpack was there and it wasn’t! We had been robbed! She took the opportunity that our roomie was gone and knew we were coming back to leave with everything!
We lost are our two computers (2 new Macbooks) with their external hard drives containing all our data (years of photography work on my side and some very important images for Anne-Laure, like the ones from her recently deceased grand father), my iPhone, Anne-Laure’s credit card and passport and some of her clothing and underwear!
And at this point there was nothing we could do. We didn’t know her face, so had no way to run after her in the village. We waited for our friend to come back and ask her what is going on. She’s a very positive and for her she thought that this girl was lost and had just done something without thinking.
She told us to stay positive and forgive her, that she would feel this and come back with our stuff. We let the night pass, but in the morning, it was time to take action!
Apparently it is admitted that the police in Mexico is not very useful and most people here when they get robbed don’t do anything. But we were well determined to get things moving, it is a bit materialistic but this was killing our budget and our hopes of travel…
Our roomie had the Facebook from the thief and her best friend’s as well as the friend’s phone number. We had, thanks to Facebook, pictures and informations to help us.
We went to the police in the nearby city to file a claim. After a relatively long exchange on the fact that we didn’t need a translator, our claim was filed.
DETECTIVE MODE : ON!
I started to gather information about the thief and we contacted her best friends and her parents through Facebook.
The next day we return to the police in Bucerias to get to know about their progress and nothing had moved! We knew that her friends and family were in Guadalajara, we jumped in the first bus and at 7pm we arrived in this alienating city of 4,2 million.
TRUTH OR LIES?
It has been very hard to discern the truth from the lies. From the parents, the friend and the police. The “ifs” were turning us crazy. “If we had come back earlier?, if we had hidden our stuff better?, etc.”. We had to deal with the moment, do our best and never give up. We headed to police station after stopping a street patrol car.
THE PATIENCE CHALLENGE
We entered the central police station. Our only strength was our determination and patience. The police couldn’t do anything because the robbery happened in a different state, which doesn’t belong to their juridiction. We spent the entire night asking for help without anything happening. The next day I rang a good friend who immediately felt concerned and did everything to help. That felt very good. We had a place to stay and some good people willing to help us.
FIRST COMPUTER FOUND!
I remembered I had installed a spy application called Prey project. You can follow the link to install it on all your mobile devices (Mac, Windows, Linux, IOS, Android). Go to the blog of Expert Vagabond for more information on how to install. It’s a little program that runs in the background of your device, when you mention that your device is “missing”, it will start to send you reports with precise GPS location, pictures taken from the camera and screenshots! Don’t forget to activate a “guest” account on your device, it will act as a bait to attract your prey!
I had received 10 reports, with a very precise GPS location. The computer was in the “Plaza Technologia”. This place is known for buying and selling stolen electronic devices!
We waited no further and went on a mission to recover my Macbook! Got to the plaza with our friends and started looking for this guy. After few minutes we found the store and the guy was using the same Macbook. We asked him if this Macbook was for sale so that we could verify if the serial number was the same as mine and… yes! We behaved as if we were interested in buying it, Anne-Laure went out pretending she was going to get some cash. But instead she went to look for a police patrol in the street and ask for help. After 20 minutes she came back with 7 police men and with the invoice we got the computer back!
The guy from the store proposed to give us the video of the thief selling the laptop two days after.
Now we were on our mission to get the video. This location, the “Plaza Technologia” has a bad reputation and the store owners control the place. The police doesn’t like to go there. The members of security are corrupt and work for these people. Our friend told us this late invitation to get the video at a certain time could very well be a trap! Still this video is key to our investigation and we had to go get it. I went with my friend in the plaza while I had my other friend (who was outside with Anne-Laure in case something happened) on the phone with the microphone of a hands-free kit. Anne-Laure was so scared something would happened. It was mission impossible. It took about 30 minutes of waiting but at the end, we got the video without any problem!
That’s it! We now had a real proof she had stollen from us. From there we lead another mission at the police station, begging for help. Once again it took forever, once again we insisted, met different people, insisted again and finally ended at the investigation police. The action people. We showed them our whole file, they were quite impressed and told us they would go talk to the parents.
The next day in the morning we received a call from the parents, they wanted to make a deal with us. They buy us a new computer as well as two hard drives and we would cancel the investigation. The police had given them a visit and they got really scared when they saw the image of their daughter selling the computer, as this was a proof to send her straight to jail (conditions in jail are very hard). So we met the parents in a restaurant. It was quite intense. For us, we didn’t really want to press charges against their daughter, we just wanted our stuff . They were really shocked by the situation and the acts of their daughter. Even if there was no way we would get our data back, we agreed to a deal.
One week later, we met the parents with a friend of their family who was a lawyer. After 5 hours of waiting we finally got to sign the papers to cancel the investigation.
LIFE GOES ON!
The result of this misadventure is not to think, what have we lost or what haven’t we lost, but more what have we learned? We have learned that in Mexico and most probably in a good part of Latin America, in case of such problems, we are alone! The Police is of very little use, this is why most people when they get robbed here, don’t even think about getting their belongings back.