Help with Mexican Theft
April 22, 2016 7:50 PM   Subscribe

All five passports, computers, Ipad, phones, etc were stolen from our Villa in Akumal. We travel tomorrow. I am borrowing a neighbors computer. Despite all of our vacation photos being gone, I guess our main concern is getting home.

When I say villa I mean - a rental place for a week.
posted by beccaj to Law & Government (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Contact the local police and the US embassy. And I'm so sorry.
posted by k8t at 7:55 PM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

Looks like you're from the US- if that's true, you need a passport before you travel home. I'd call your airline and get your flight delayed and get to the embassy as soon as you can. Good luck!
posted by arnicae at 7:55 PM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Contact the US Consulate as soon as possible. There's one in Merida and one in Mexico City in case you fly from there.

You might have to go to the Ministerio Público and make a report of the stolen items, I think they'll ask for it in the Consulate.
posted by clearlydemon at 7:57 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mérida consulate information:

Calle 60 No. 338-K x 29 y 31
Col. Alcala Martin Merida, Yucatan, Mexico 97050
Phone: 011-52-999-942-5700
Fax: 011-52-999-942-5758
posted by clearlydemon at 8:00 PM on April 22, 2016

Definitely the local police. These communities live and die on tourism. Thieves who prey on tourists endanger the livelihood of everyone in the community. The local police thus have a lot of incentive to try to track down the perpetrators.
posted by Dansaman at 8:07 PM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

My passport was stolen when I was in Nepal, and the US embassy wouldn't issue me a replacement without a police report (or it would have been harder without one). So you should call the police (or go to the police station) to get that started and then call the embassy (or consulate, if there is one nearby) and ask what you need to do. You have very little time, so you'll want to start this right away and you might want to have one of you deal with the police while the other deals with the passport.
posted by lunasol at 8:10 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's been several decades since I had my passport stolen. I believe it was in early 2000 and I only found out the day I was leaving so I didn't have time to tell the police.

At the checkpoint in the airport I told them and they waived me through. They may be stricter now that it's in the post 9-11 world, but I suspect, especially if you have your driver's license, you'll have no problem getting back in.
posted by bswinburn at 9:08 PM on April 22, 2016

You will not be able to fly without a passport, even with a driver's license, it is much stricter these days. Gather your passport copies, if you have them, and any U.S. identifying documents like driver's licenses. There is a Consular Agency in Playa del Carmen that is, I believe, the closest to where you are. However, it's not clear from that page whether they offer passport services. The Consular Agency Cancún appears to offer passport applications, but that may still not mean they actually issue passports (libraries offer passport applications, after all, but they definitely can't make passports).

I would call the emergency number for the Mérida consulate 01-999-942-5700, explain your flight situation, and see what they have to say. It's a 3.5 hour drive to Mérida from Akumal, and if it were me I might just drive out there for opening hours 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Obviously, if you have a 10 a.m. flight, it's not worth it, so decide based on your schedule. My guess is you'll spend most of a day driving out there, getting photos and making passport applications, and driving back, but who knows? Assuming you don't have anyone in your party with a criminal record or immigration troubles, the consulate should be able to issue a same-day passport that will definitely get you home. It's a 29-hour drive to Corpus Christi, Texas, and then you'd have to beg at the border and fly/drive home, so that doesn't seem like a good option. Be sure to contact your airline to let them know you won't be making your flight. Sorry.
posted by wnissen at 9:27 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would not bank on getting across the border without correct documents. File a police report locally. The closest place that can do what you need is likely Merida which is about a 3 hour drive (on a good day). Looking at the appointment calendar, it appears the consulate in Merida isn't open for appointments on Monday or Tuesday.

In your situation I would call my local congressman and ask for help from constituent services. They may be able to grease some gears for you.
posted by 26.2 at 9:39 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't call your congressman. The Consulate in Merida can get you an emergency passport. This qualifies as an emergency. Call the Consulate in Merida, speak to the duty officer (as the main line will be closed on the weekend), and explain your situation.

You should not need a police report.
posted by eugenen at 1:55 AM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Here's the actual stuff from the state dept.

What you need to be doing is rounding up photos of your passport if you have them or calling someone at home to dig out birth certificates and scan and post them. Everything else is pretty easy. Passport photo, a one page application for passport and your travel itin posted. Consulates have the ability ro print your passport. It usually takes whatever time waiting in line plus an hour or two. (Ive had to do it twice, and mine were neither lost nor urgent)

Good luck. So sorry you got screwed.
posted by chasles at 6:09 AM on April 23, 2016

Oh, and you should take a walk around the neighborhood and see if someone dumped the passports, they might not be worth selling. If you have the time, energy, and Internet access, you should log on to Find My iPhone and wipe the devices if the thieves were so stupid as to leave them turned on. The only thing worse than losing a day of vacation to a robbery is finding someone stole your identity. Keep us posted.
posted by wnissen at 2:33 PM on April 23, 2016

So, we are home! We got a police report (what a story that is!) and brought it to the airport first thing in the AM. We were SURE we couldn't fly home. A few dozen extra questions, showing the police report and our licenses and that shipped us back to Boston WITHOUT PASSPORT. They verified a bunch of info in Boston and we made it home.

We did wipe the devices and tracked the thieves to Playa del Carmen (likely an electronics store). Not too much we could do with the info. We passed on all the info to the police.

I can't say how nice and helpful the people in Quintana Roo were and are. Thanks for all your help, even though we ended up not needing it. We felt we had all the info we needed to brave the consulate.
posted by beccaj at 5:27 PM on April 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

Oh and I want to add, I did call the consulate. They were NOT helpful and said to go regular business hours this Monday. I said I would drive to Merida, etc, or anywhere to get help on the weekend.

Police report was important! We showed it a lot!
posted by beccaj at 5:58 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Wait, the duty officer told you to come back on Monday? So you ended up throwing yourself on the mercy of the CBP agents in Cancún? Isn't the whole point of having consulates and embassies in foreign countries to help with situations exactly like the one you were in? And isn't the $135 that a passport costs supposed to cover the cost of providing that help? Why are they there, then? I'm extremely disappointed that they didn't even try to assist you. Maybe a letter to the State Department is in order. Thank goodness you got home okay.
posted by wnissen at 7:52 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Snickerdoodle - Well, it was a stolen passport when someone came into our rental home and took most of our belongings while we were downstairs.
When you have no way to return home to your country with 3 small children, it seems like it may be an issue. If you have no money, no passport and no place to stay, it seems like they might want to help.
They consider an arrest to be an emergency-- if some drunk American gets drunk and tossed in jail and can get the consulate to help, it would seem a family of five that was just victimized might get a little attention-not come see us in 3 days, 4 away hours from where you are stuck.

Wnissen - yes, the duty officer did blow us off. I was calling from the police station (where the poor officer had to pause his Hulk cartoon to go to google to download a form to make a police report[after calling someone to ask "how do I make a police report"]) and tried to be a bit pushier than my normal try-not-to-be-an-imposition self. She really wasn't interested.
posted by beccaj at 8:07 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Glad you made it back safely! I'm a bit late to the party but wanted to chime in. I am a boat captain on a commercial passenger vessel that travel internationally on a weekly basis and - granted international travel by sea can be different than by air - I've been told on the few occasions when american passengers have lost their passports when out off the country that the US will never deny entry of a citizen back into the country (ie copy of passport, drivers license, etc). The airlines, who knows how they handle that, but in my experience showing a passport photocopy and answering a few questions about yourself gets you back in. One of the conversations basically went:

CBP officer: "What town did you grow up in?"
Passenger: *rattles off answer*
CBP: "What was the name of your second grade teacher?"
Pax: Uhhhhhhhh
CBP: "Yea no one remembers that, I'd be worried if you did, welcome home."
posted by danapiper at 9:07 PM on April 23, 2016

So glad it worked out!

We got a police report (what a story that is!)

Oh boy. The police station in Pokhara, Nepal made me come back three days in a row before I finally got a report. A Nepali friend later told me they were probably expecting me to bribe them but I was way too dense for that and just kept coming back until they gave it to me!
posted by lunasol at 4:50 PM on April 24, 2016

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