Many readers contact me to ask about crime rates and trends in a particular part of Mexico. Since my full-time job is being a retiree and not a crime analyst, I normally point them to two helpful sites:
1) the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory page, and
2) a Mexico based site called Semáforo Delictivo.
Today’s article is about that second site.
Semáforo Delictivo is a privately owned by a watchdog organization whose goal is to accurately report crime trends in Mexico and evaluate the effectiveness of the police in combating crime.
They obtain their statistical data from multiple sources including surveys. Since many crimes may be unreported or improperly classified by authorities, the surveys help to give a more accurate picture of what’s truly going on — or at least in theory that’s how it works.
The statistical data from Semáforo Delictivo is consistently cited by major news outlets both in and outside Mexico.
Here’s a quick rundown on how to use the site:
Video Tutorial in Spanish
For those readers who are fluent in Spanish, I recommend that you watch the video below.The video is far more detailed than the tutorial I created in the next section of the article.
An English Tutorial for the Linguistically Challenged
If your Spanish skills are a bit lacking, you may have trouble navigating the Semáforo Delictivo website because — well, it’s only offered in Spanish.
Normally, I would recommend that you solve this little dilemma by plugging the web address into Google Translate and presto — instant English — however, that little trick won’t work with this particular site.
But, hope is not lost. I have prepared a short tutorial for you and with a little patience, you’ll be checking and comparing crime statistics from across Mexico.
First things first, open the site:
Performing a Quick Check
The site tracks 11 categories of crimes:
- Homicide – homicidio
- Kidnapping – secuestro
- Extortion – extorsión,
- Narcotics sales – narcomenudeo
- Theft from a vehicle (burglary) – robo a vehículo
- Theft from a residence (burglary) – robo a casa
- Theft from a business (burglary) – robo a negocio
- Injuries from intentional acts (battery, assault) – lesiones
- Sexual battery/ rape – violación
- Domestic violence – violencia familiar
- Femicide – feminicidio
The site uses traffic signals (called semáforos in Spanish) to give you a quick visual representation if crime is a problem in a particular category. Here’s all you need to know: green is good, yellow is so-so, and red is bad.
You can hover your cursor over any of the traffic lights to see the number of incidents that month. If you click on it, you’ll see detailed historical information.
Changing the Date Range
At the top of the screen, you’ll find drop down menus where you can look for statistics from a particular month and year.
Obtaining Detailed Data for a Particular State
At the top of the screen you will see a drop down menu called Semáforos Estatales. The states are listed in alphabetical order.
When you pull up a particular state, you’ll see crime data broken down by municipality.
Let’s Wrap This Up
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.
One way to learn more about crime trends, victimology and to identify neighborhoods that are especially dangerous, is to read online newspapers from the area. Most sites also have a search feature that will allow you to easily search through previous articles that are related.
Oh, by the way, most of the news sites that I have checked worked well with Google Translate. Just paste in the URL and voilà!
Well, that’s enough talk about crime. It’s time for me to go back to being a retiree and head to the beach. Hasta Luego.