Readers often write me to ask about crime in Mexico. It’s important to keep in mind that Mexico is large country, so it’s impossible to make general statements about safety. Just like in any other part of the world, crime rates can vary greatly by location — even within the same city.
That being said, it is not a secret that some geographic locations of Mexico have a higher incidence of crimes such as homicide and kidnapping. Those are definitely the top two crime categories that readers ask me about.
If you are interested in doing a little research on a particular area of Mexico, there is a very handy free online resource to assist you: Semáforo Delictivo at http://www.semaforo.mx/
There are two things that I really like about the site: 1) it is not owned or operated by the government and 2) they obtain their data from multiple sources including surveys. Since some crimes may be unreported or improperly classified by authorities, the surveys help to give a more accurate picture of what is truly going on.
Video Tutorial in Spanish
For those readers who are fluent in Spanish, I recommend that you watch the video below to learn about the site and how to use it. The video is far more detailed than the tutorial I created in the next section of the article.
Tutorial for English Speakers
This site can be difficult to navigate if you don’t speak any Spanish at all. The majority of the data is presented in an interactive flash format that cannot be translated using Google Translate — but don’t worry, I’ve taken the liberty of creating a mini English tutorial to show you how to search for statistical data.
Checking Statistical Data
Opening the site
Click the following link to open the site: http://semaforo.com.mx/
The site uses traffic lights (semáforos in Spanish) to indicate if the crime rate for that category is below the goal number (green); between the goal and the average (yellow); or has exceeded the average (red).
The site tracks crime data in 8 categories. If you need help translating the category names, check the glossary near the end of this article.
Checking stats per state
Scroll down to the state that you are interested in. If you hover your cursor over a specific traffic signal, you will be able to see the specific statistical data.
Changing the date range
Scroll to the top of the screen and you will see drop down menus for both the month and the year.
Pulling up detailed state data
At the top of the screen you will see a drop down menu called Semáforos Estatales. The states are listed in alphabetical order.
Glossary of Terms Used
- Extorsión – Extortion
- Homicidio – Homicide
- Incidentes en el mes – Incidents in a month
- Lesiones – Injuries (intentional acts like battery)
- Media – average
- Meta – Goal
- Robo a casa – Theft from a residence (burglary)
- Robo a negocio – Theft from a business (burglary)
- Robo a vehículo – Theft from a vehicle (burglary)
- Secuestro – Kidnapping
- Violación – Rape, sexual battery
Let’s Wrap This Up
Statistical data can be useful in identifying crime trends but it is not a perfect tool. Since data depends heavily on the cooperation and record-keeping of local municipalities, many of the actual figures may be higher than those reflected in the statistical data.
Statistical data can also be a bit misleading because it doesn’t tell us anything about the victims. Having been a law enforcement officer for 25 years, I can tell you that victimology is very important in analyzing crime trends and data.
For example, if you read in the paper that there was a home invasion in your town and two people were killed, you might be terrified that someone will soon break into your house. However, if the investigation revealed that the house was actually a known drug house and that the two victims were gang members, you would probably feel safer — unless of course you were a gang member operating a drug house. In that case, maybe not.
That’s why it’s important to read the local newspapers from the area that you are researching. The easiest way to do this is online. One of the newspapers that I follow for Quintana Roo is Novedades.
Most online periodicals have a search feature that will allow you to easily locate previous crime articles. By learning more about the circumstances of major crimes in your area, you will be able to better assess if you would be safe there.
For those of you with limited Spanish skills, you can use Google Translate to translate whole web pages. All you have to do is paste the URL into the translation box and click on the highlighted link that appears on the Spanish side. You will be taken to the page; however, the text will be translated into English.
I follow crime statistics and news reports for my area very closely, and I can tell you that I feel safer living here than I did in Central Florida.