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Mexico police robbery and trip interruption

Briefly, I was in Mexico a few weeks ago and was robbed in broad daylight by a dishonest motorcycle cop. He took my US drivers license, and wouldn't give it back until I emptied my wallet of all my cash.

My trip was interrupted and I came home early. I filed a claim with my travel insurance company (major company mentioned elsewhere on this web site), and they said that since robbery by a police officer is not a named hazard, they will not pay anything on my claim.

I am next going to call MasterCard, because I have some built-in trip interruption coverage with them.

If anyone has advice on collecting on a claim (trip interruption -- hotel and airfare and stolen cash) I'd appreciate it. I do not have a police report, for obvious reasons.

(Please don't post advice on what I SHOULD have done with the cop, I've already heard it and it won't help me now. It was the first time I was held up by a cop, so in the moment I didn't know what to do.)

Posted by
31219 posts

Boston,

Sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience in Mexico. I'm curious, were you driving at the time you were stopped? While this doesn't help now, the Canadian government travel website states,

Legitimate police officers have extorted money from tourists or arrested tourists for minor offences or traffic violations. If this occurs, do not hand over your money or your passport. Instead, ask for the officer’s name, badge and patrol car number, the location of the arrest, and the written fine payable at a later date. Should you feel the fine cannot be justified, proceed to the nearest tourism office or local branch of the state prosecutor’s office (Agencia del Ministerio Público) to file a complaint.

(I didn't check the U.S. State Department site).

Unfortunately I doubt that you'll be able to collect any compensation since you don't have a police report, and it's also hard to prove how much cash was taken.

Posted by
18155 posts

Sounds believable to me. I've been hearing about this sort of thing in Mexico for over a decade (and I mean in print publications, not forum posts). Mind you, I have no idea how common it is, but there have been enough reoorts to convince me that I wouldn't want to drive in Mexico.

I agree that insurance probably isn't going to pay off in this situation.

Posted by
7122 posts

If anyone has advice on collecting on a claim ---- contact whatever entity you seek recovery from, ask them what you need to do to present a claim and then do it.

If you believe your travel insurance provider wrongfully denied your claim, you should contact your state's Insurance Commissioner Office

If Mastercard turns you down, you will have to read the account agreement to see what your options are for 'dispute resolution'. It likely could be arbitration.

It is up to you to prove your claim

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for the replies... my responses:

  1. Yes, I was driving -- the cops hang out in areas with tourists, in my case main road in Cancun, and then pull you over for bogus reasons. Then they take your license and immediately suggest a bribe or threaten to arrest you.

  2. I purchased insurance which covers "trip interruption" among other things. My trip was interrupted by the robbery, because the cop took my cash on the 3rd day of an 8-day trip. This is my first post because I haven't posted here before -- I suppose that is self-evident. I wasn't aware of this forum until Friday night.

  3. I've not seen similar stories in print publications, but after the fact saw others post similar accounts on other travel sites. I wish I'd seen this before this trip -- I'd traveled to Mexico several times in the past without any trouble. But if I'd known this was going on, I would've traveled somewhere else.

  4. Good ideas about the insurance commissioner and the cc company.

  • BostonGuy
Posted by
6539 posts

How much cash are you requesting insurance to reimburse you? Do you have an ATM slip (or electronic debit from your bank you can produce) showing a large withdrawal (or multiple withdrawals) of pesos upon arrival to substantiate the amount you had in your wallet? That's the only "hard" proof I can think of that you can offer in your defense. I've gotta ask - given how many ATMs there are all over Cancun and how prevalent credit cards are, why were you carrying so much cash in your wallet that its loss was sufficient to interrupt the rest of your trip? That's the take-away I hope people get from your report.

I hope this incident doesn't sour your whole view of Mexico or Yucatan, it's a wonderful place to visit in general. I'm a bit surprised this happened in the Yucatan, as that region is considered very safe compared to a few others. I've been there a number of times (all over the place, including the western coast). I'm not totally surprised there's a crooked cop here and there. I've mostly heard people complain at the airport about how their rental car company ripped them off for alleged damages. But a cop can only extort what you have on you in the car or in your wallet. So the key is minimize your risk, even if that means having no valuables in the car, sticking to credit cards, carrying little cash at all times, or not renting a car again. The buses are excellent in Mexico, there's really no need to drive...almost all towns are connected, the primera clase (and even some seconde clase) buses are super comfortable and modern, and the bus schedules are frequent enough and certainly cheap.

Can I ask what was the pretext for the cop for pulling you over in the first place? I am genuinely interested because, if I do rent a car there next time, I want to know what to expect. I'll be sure to brush up fully on my Spanish too.

Posted by
1042 posts

BostonGuy, I'm sorry that this happened to you.
Just for your information, since you are new to the Forum, people will reply with suggestions for what you might have done differently because we all learn from each others' experiences and benefit from reading them.
Good luck with your follow-up.

Posted by
31219 posts

Boston,

Thanks for clarification on the "driving" question. You're likely not the first or last to be victimized with this scam, and it's a good reason not to rent a car in Mexico.

I'm not sure how much success you'll have in getting your money back, but it doesn't hurt to try. Again from the Canadian government website (I'm assuming the U.S. warnings are similar).....

"No criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Mexican authorities. Complaints must be made in person before leaving Mexico."

Good luck!

Posted by
440 posts

It should go down as a mugging really sorry to hear this happened to you.