Mexico: How to Find Crime Statistics for a Particular City or State

Police car in Puebla, Mexico (source: Q-Roo Paul)

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:

http://semaforo.com.mx/

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.

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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.

6

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. 

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

23 Comments on "Mexico: How to Find Crime Statistics for a Particular City or State"

  1. Interesting see the local police force in Acapulco replaced by state and fed.

    • Yes, that happens from time to time in different areas of Mexico. It is usually temporary while they attempt to identify and eliminate the bad apples.

  2. Richard 'El Jefe' Hileman | September 27, 2018 at 9:17 am |

    Wow! That is a really interesting city. Feels very UCR-ee! 🙂

  3. Thanks for the report on the different areas and crime. Is it true that the editor of the Playa Times was murdered?? Love that little paper! Linda

    • I think the case you’re thinking ofl is the murder of the director of the Seminario Playa News. That did happen and the site is no longer active.

      The Playa Times went out of business recently but it wasn’t the result of a criminal act.

  4. Thanks for sharing. It’s very helpful to have access to this information.

  5. Niefia Zupancic | September 27, 2018 at 11:18 am |

    Very helpful site – thx – going to Mexico City & Oaxaca for DLM & now Im a bit worried – but will utilize caution

  6. Thank you so much for being such a generous resource to all of us!

  7. Annette Durkin | September 27, 2018 at 12:51 pm |

    Thank you for sharing this and your tutorial for navigating the site! We love and appreciate your articles! They are always full of great information!!

  8. Carol Scagliotti | September 27, 2018 at 1:34 pm |

    Thank you so much for the info. We have a home in Mazatlan and I see it’s on the map to not go. We have been going there for 15 years and have never had a problem, but I’m very aware of my surroundings when I’m out and about. It is still a little scary after looking at the map.

  9. So much fantastic information! Thank you for spending your retirement time translating for those of us that are linguistically challenged :o) I swear I’ve done some of your Spanish lessons but never get far enough or practice enough to have it stick. Muchas gracias!!

  10. Quite frankly the Mexican source of crime statistics didn’t leave me feeling “warm and fuzzy” about an potential retirement in Mexico. I was particularly interested in Puerto Vallarta with a distant second choice of Cancun or Merida, and a third distant choice of Mexico city. PV my preferred choice didn’t really do much to qualm safety fears. If anything, it raised them.

  11. Very interesting read. But I was very surprised to see that Jalisco was so ‘red’ (high crime). I am assuming that this mainly applies to big cities such as Guadalajara. I have spent time in Ajijic, Lake Chapala and had no worries at all. I have lived in the UK, travelled extensively all over Europe, Israel and even Moscow, mainly a solo traveler. I felt very comfortable and safe in Ajijic. Thank you Paul and Linda for your blogs, I really look forward to them.

  12. Most people know that in QR it’s mostly petty crimes unless your involved in drugs or a drunk tourist trying to score drugs or getting mixed up in other illegal activities. In other words stupid people doing stupid things. Even more stupid is stupid people doing really stupid things such a splashing around their cash like a drunk sailor on shore leave in a foreign country. What’s worse than that drunk sailor, a drunk tourist who wears a Rolex or excessive outward signs of wealth splashing around cash and all the while being rude and condescending to less fortunate people around them. Most law enforcement types agree that common sense goes a long way in your personal safety.

    Too bad the statistics don’t include the stupid people factor, it certainly would change how anyone views crime stats

  13. Hello Paul,
    This is an interesting resource combined with your comments from professional experience in law enforcement. We call Sinaloa our home; notorious in reputation – “Violent crime is widespread” (US State) – and generally tagged territory to avoid.

    Indeed, violence & murder is common yet many times victims are ID’d by the locals as known participants in/traffickers of high risk commodities. I am only a part-time resident but knew personally 2 men gunned down in public; one an alleged money launderer & the other apparently rendezvousing with the wife of a man better left alone. From neither family nor neighbors native to Sinaloa, do I know of any apparent innocent party who personally, or even is aware of another, who has suffered any grievous violent injustice.

    Interestingly, Semáforo Delictivo delineates a consistent “red light” regarding homicide/assault/battery but relatively average or even lower frequency of other crimes comparatively. Such data lends credence to exercising good judgment and attending to one’s business only.

  14. Thanks!!! I agree that the US state travel site seems generalized and not specific. Your constant additional site information is greatly appreciated! Your blog is awesome!! – Rosaritobum

  15. robert oosdyke | October 4, 2018 at 10:37 am |

    Been looking at various Mexico sites for info on many things. You have hit it! GREAT JOB! Thank YOU! Robert O.

  16. Jimmie Lee Zwissler | November 7, 2018 at 9:40 pm |

    Thank you for the data and explanation.
    We are retiring to SMA in March. We haven’t had worries about crime.
    I got this message from a friend when she learned we are moving to MX.
    Would like your thoughts on her comments…

    “As someone who works on the threat of transnational criminal organizations, I am appalled that any of my friends would visit, much less move to, Mexico.”

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