Life in Latin America isn’t always so different from life in the US.
At least when you are living here and not just being a tourist vacationing at a resort in Cancun.
Here’s a story illustrating what I mean.
As I wrote here, I met a random guy at a Starbucks in Mexico City near El Centro Historico.
Long story short, I live in Mexico City but far away from that area of the city.
Had to travel to visit a pharmacy.
After the pharmacy visit, I went to a nearby Starbucks where I met some random American dude while waiting for my black tea to be ready.
During our conservation, as you can read here, we got into a conversation about corrupt cops in Mexico.
And, keeping with the theme of corruption & crime, we briefly talked about another detail.
Well, to be fair, “we” isn’t the right word.
I was mostly listening as this guy was going on and on whenever I asked a new question.
Given I don’t talk to too many foreigners, there is a part of me that likes to pick their brains about how they perceive life down here.
So, during our discussion about corrupt cops, he brought up another story casually about his time in Mexico that was interesting to me.
It revealed a detail to life down here that I never considered before.
And, beyond that minor detail, you could see a bigger lesson that plenty of foreigners forget when they just begin living down here.
What was the not so important story with its important lessons?
Finding an Ol’ Friend in a Mexican Pawn Shop
The guy in question is more familiar with the north of Mexico than I am.
I’ve never been near the border area of the country.
At any rate, he had an issue in some random city near the border with the US.
I forgot which city it was but, if I had to guess, maybe it was Hermosillo?
At any rate, the story is nothing more than the fact that he was staying for a brief period in some city up north and, upon returning to some rental that he found on AirBnB, he discovered that something was stolen in his apartment.
Who stole it?
He initially suspected it was his landlord but nobody knows.
Obviously no charges were brought against anyone.
The building didn’t have any cameras documenting anyone entering or leaving the building.
So it’s a big mystery but he did have some clue.
He did eventually learn that it wasn’t his landlord after some research.
How did he make any progress?
While I didn’t ask too many details on how he figured out how to find it again, from what I know, he basically checked the local Pawn Shops.
I have no idea what that involves outside of assumingly just walking into random Pawn Shops in the area and asking “have you seen this?”
And, to be fair, I didn’t ask too many questions about how exactly the process was.
I’m sure that would be very helpful to anyone reading.
At any rate, the dude concluded that it would be best to check the local Pawn Shops.
And, over some phone calls, there was some local in the city that happened to buy the laptop from a Pawn Shop.
It was the exact same laptop.
They somehow proved it was his
The customer brought it back to him.
Any legal issues were handled beyond my understanding as I have no idea how that worked and I didn’t ask.
He got his laptop back anyhow with the only inconveniences being the time, stress and money getting it back and the fact that he had to switch the language of the laptop from Spanish back into English.
Thankfully, he got the laptop back because, according to him, it was his work laptop actually and not some random personal one that he could replace apparently.
And that was it!
This isn’t my story.
I have no idea on how to recover your laptop from Pawn Shops or how it works in Mexico or any country.
Still, there’s at least two points that we can take from this brief story that I found useful for the typical foreigner thinking of visiting or living in Latin America.
First, if someone steals from you, it’s obviously not the worst idea to check the local Pawn Shops or any other area where one would sell stolen shit.
As I wrote here, you have phone thieves in Mexico City where they steal phones and sell them in the Centro Historico of CDMX.
So, outside of Pawn Shops, your stolen item might be sold in some market of a touristy spot or wherever.
Beyond that, obviously it could be sold online I suppose.
Either way, if someone stole from you and you are hellbent on finding it, then those are some options to look for it.
And I mention the Pawn Shop option especially because I truly think plenty of foreigners wouldn’t think of that.
I wouldn’t have!
Which goes to the next point.
Second, while you are in a different country, that doesn’t mean that anything that works back home wouldn’t work down here.
The same thing happens up north – thieves trying to sell shit to Pawn Shops and getting caught by the cops doing so.
While I’m not an expert on how Pawn Shops work in Mexico, it wouldn’t surprise me if they are more relaxed and less on top of it when informing local cops if a stolen item is brought in.
But who knows!
All I know was this thief was able to sell the laptop to this one Pawn Shop but, through insane luck and effort, he got the laptop back.
Either way, the second point is nothing more than to remember that what works back home could work down here depending on the circumstances.
While Latin America has its cultural differences with the US, it also has many similarities.
One of those being that thieves in either area like to get rid of their stolen items quick and make the cash they’re looking for.
So, if someone steals from you, just don’t assume that they wouldn’t behave like a thief in the US and not try to sell it in a Pawn Shop.
Check that Pawn Shop!
If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get it back like that random dude I was talking with.
Either way, I got nothing else to add because it’s not my story and there were only a few valuable lessons I found with the story that I think could be useful to somebody out there.
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Thanks for reading.