Over a year ago, I remember meeting another American named Alex who was new to Mexico City.
While new to Mexico, he did have experience though in Puerto Rico and did speak "conversational" Spanish to some degree.
So this wasn't his first trip to Latin America.
Anyway, when he lived in Puerto Rico, I remember him telling me a story of one his days over in San Juan where he got robbed!
From what I remember, he was working over there for the US Department of Transportation or some Federal department working on improving the infrastructure after a hurricane.
That's what he did professionally (aside from also trying to make money from investing in crypto).
So, when it came to Puerto Rico, what happened?
Well, it was a story of theft like any other in Latin America.
Basically, someone came up to him with a gun and pointed it directly at his head and demanded he gave up his belongings.
In the moment, Alex supposedly didn't know what the guy was saying but a "gun to your head" by a stranger kinda gives away some hints that he isn't looking to ask if you're having a goo day.
With common sense, Alex just assumed that the dude was yelling about his shit and he emptied his pockets to hand over his wallet and phone.
Now, from what Alex told me, he was smart about it.
Didn't carry hundreds of dollars in his wallet. Just enough for a day out on the town (whatever it was but not enough to get bottle service at a club obviously).
And a cheap burner phone that he had also (not the one with access to his bank, crypto stuff, social media, etc).
Anyway, he didn't lose much but it still left him shook.
The dude with the gun ran off into the vehicle of someone else and they fled.
Later on, Alex tried reporting the issue to the police though.
And here is the kicker: the police told him that "he might as well not report it."
"Don't bother" is what one of them said.
Now, one could wonder, why would the cops ask him to not report it?
Even though he won't get his stuff back, he could at least make a police report, denounce it and have it on the records of it happening, no?
Well, Alex didn't know why they didn't want him to not denounce it.
Only that "it's not worth it."
So one could assume that perhaps the police were just being lazy and didn't want to be pressured more into finding the thief if he denounced it formally and/or perhaps they felt it wasn't worth pursuing as the criminal is probably long gone by now.
Either theory sounds possible.
But there's another incident that happened not too long ago that is similar to what happened to Alex.
Not in Puerto Rico but actually in Mexico City.
The Motoladrones Strike Again
Not too long ago, I was hanging with a new dude I have gotten to know named Andres.
He's a Mexican dude I met at the gym I go to and we once in a blue moon hang out with some beers.
Anyway, we both live in the south of Mexico City in an area called Pedregal de Santo Domingo.
In this incident, he was actually more north in the city somewhere "near Centro Historico."
Though, when I asked him "where up there?" he responded near Buenavista Mall.
So "somewhere up there" I guess you can say.
Anyway, he was headed up there to visit a sister when they both got robbed by gun point by some "motoladrones."
Now, for those who don't know, motoladrones are just people riding around on a motorcycle with a gun looking to rob people.
Like you can see here of a few of them getting robbed by those they tried to rob.
Ladrones van a robar y terminan robados
Anyway, it's a story of nothing more than they were walking around some street and two dudes on a motorcycle stumbled upon them, guns drawn and took their shit.
Not like they had much shit to give anyway!
Given Andres lives in Santo Domingo, it's not like he's flooded with cash.
Thankfully, he didn't have his phone on him though and just lost a few hundred pesos.
Her sister though did lose her phone and whatever small amount of change she had ("no mucho," he told me).
Anyway, they also tried reporting it to the police but had slightly more success.
In Mexico City, you actually have these C5 cameras everywhere that make it easier for the police to follow criminals like you can see here.
It's helped a lot in catching those running away from a crime.
Long story short, they ultimately left empty handed without their belongings returned.
On top of all of that, they were also encouraged to "not file a police report."
Well, let's cut the foreplay and get into the issue at hand here.
"Don't File a Police Report"
In most Latin American countries, most expats who have been here long enough know to not always trust the crime statistics very well.
We all know that plenty of people -- for whatever reason -- do not report all of the crime that happens to them.
For one, you have people who don't even try without the police telling them not to because they think it won't be worth trying.
That nothing will change.
In fact, given Andres is from a poorer area, I was surprised he even tried at all.
But he is younger and perhaps younger Mexicans are more willing to put in the effort.
That's just a guess though. Maybe Andres had lots of time that day. Who knows.
Anyway, that's one reason why police reports don't always get filed down here.
But another reason is because the police themselves might not want you filing a police report.
Now, to be fair, corruption is different in every Latin American country and city and some places are worse than others.
This article only really looks into two examples where one happens in Puerto Rico and the other in Mexico City.
Obviously, that doesn't represent ALL of Latin America.
Still, it's an issue you hear about in other countries also.
Getting at it now, one could wonder why would the police discourage anyone of filing a police report?
Well, I'm a foreigner here and I don't know all the nuanced little details but I have my theories as to why.
First, you have political pressure to keep the rates of crime down.
It's much easier to "sweep things under the rug" than to actually address them in Latin America as I wrote more about here.
Just recently, you had the mayor of Mexico City, Sheinbaum, claim that Mexico City has a lower homicide rate than New York City as you can see here.
While that claim is factually false with the official homicide rates out there as you can see here, it would be even more false if we also considered all the more crimes that don't get reported in Mexico City versus those that don't get reported in New York City.
So clearly politicians have their eye on these numbers and would like them to be as nice as possible for reelection time.
One could wonder if there is ever any pressure to discourage police departments from taking in police reports or, at the very least, if the city government doesn't give a fuck on stopping police from discouraging them because to do would raise the official crime rates as more people would make denunciations.
Second, you have some economic importance here also. Obviously, if any particular city has rising crime rates, that's going to look bad in the news and you'll have less tourists wanting to visit said country.
We already know that Mexico has a bad reputation for being violent and any extra news on violence doesn't help their reputation and hurts the flow of tourism money coming in.
After all the shootings at Cancun not too long ago, you had literal Mexican troops on the beaches patrolling to keep foreigners safe as you can see here.
Which is a bit funny to see because I can't imagine my beach vacation including armed men with huge ass guns walking around meant to keep me safe.
If you need that to begin with, how much of a "safe image" are you projecting to the world?
Granted, I think those who would take a vacation to Mexico (or live here? Haha haha) are more willing to take risks than those whose idea of a "safe enough vacation" include some cabin in Canada or visiting a chocolate shop in Sweden.
Still, higher crime rates is not something Mexico City or any place needs if they don't want to hurt the flow of tourism dollars.
Third, sometimes the police truly don't think they will be able to catch the criminal and just don't want to waste time handling a police report.
They might not have the proper tools in some cities (like C5 cameras) and know the criminals are long gone.
Fourth, they might have the tools but are just too fucking lazy to do anything about it.
I remember one story of a gal coming to Mexico City and having to bribe a cop to get him to help her look for her stolen phone (they never did find it but the cop wouldn't do anything without a bribe).
Fifth, the police themselves might be in on it and don't want anything reported for obvious reasons.
Here's an interesting story I found online by someone who claimed to be robbed by the police in Mexico City.
"Sparring you all some details, I was told at one point by the police that they had caught the thief and we’re going to return my things. I was taken to another police station where I was told they had nothing, they hadn’t been caught, and was encouraged to not file a police report. Upon leaving dejected, a cop pulled me aside and said truthfully, the cops had stolen my things when they found the thief and to not ride back to my hotel with the cops because they were corrupt and it’s very unsafe."
Also, sometimes the police will say that they do have the items recovered but need to keep them "as proof" of the crime having happened.
Finally, some people will say that the police steal because they are so poor with terrible wages.
For one, I kinda get the argument that obviously having cops with better salaries would incentivize them less if they knew that being caught would mean losing their jobs that pay well.
Obviously, if a job doesn't pay well, you care even less if you lose the job or not.
But, having said that, I also think police would keep stealing unless the likelihood of you being able to get them in trouble was higher.
If it was easier to hold them accountable.
Above all though, I don't like it when gringos use this as an excuse for why the police can be shit either when it comes to stealing or being too lazy to follow through on a crime.
"Oh, they're just poor third world people, give them a break!"
Bro, shut the fuck up.
They can still do the job they signed up to.
The gringos saying this are often the self-hating type who see themselves as doormats to the locals and who are too scared to even utter a minor and fair critique of the country and recognize some of the problems it carries.
Anyway, that's a side ramble.
Regardless, those are all the main reasons I see for why police will sometimes tell you to "not report a crime."
Anyhow, the main point here above all is to "take lightly" any official crime reports or statistics that come out of Latin America.
Just know a lot of it can be full of shit.
If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.