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How to Keep Your Home Safe in Mexico

Safety and Home Dangers

Colonial Window

Feeling safe and secure in your home is of upmost importance to all of us. When we are there or when we are away, we want to have the piece of mind that our personal space will not be violated and everything will be in the same place as it was when we left it. While crime is not a big issue in Playa Del Carmen, it can happen and unfortunately more frequently. Most crime is “a crime of opportunity“, so taking away some opportunity will keep your home safer.

A small inconvenient truth about home robbery in Playa Del Carmen is the fact that after it happens there is not much the police can do or actually do. There is no CSI team that dust for prints, they basically just take a report. If your home does get broken into it is good to report it for two reasons:

  1. It is good to have accurate reports of how much crime happens.
  2. You usually need a police report to file an insurance claim. Even if you are on an extended vacation, sometimes your credit card company will cover recent purchases or your other insurance will cover things.

Knowing that people that break into homes usually do not get caught can be infuriating. So it is good to keep these people out in the first place. That is why we came up with 20 tips for prevention.

Here are 20 tips to keep your home safe in Playa Del Carmen.

  1. Get to know your neighbors. It is the old fashion kindness of neighbors that can have more eyes looking out for you. Having your neighbors over for a drink or dinner will give you a chance to talk about what they have seen in the neighborhood over time. If you feel that they are trustworthy people, knowing each others schedules, what vehicles everyone drives and who normally comes in and out of your house are all great things for each of you to know. Recently an apartment was broken into in Playa. Neighbors heard a noise (which was the glass of the front window being broken) but everyone just thought it was a noise. Someone was seen coming from the place but there were so many people that came in and out of that apartment, no one thought about it. If the neighbors we more friendly they might have know more about them and actually stopped the person to ask what he was doing there.
  2. The warm climate here is conducive to having the windows and doors open a lot. This is part of the reason you see metal protectors on windows. It gives you the opportunity to open the window and leave the room without someone coming in through it. If you own a home or a condo where these window guards are allowed, it is good to have them especially for first floor windows. They can also double as slight protection for your windows in storms or small hurricanes.  (See on popular local method for hurricane protection here). There is more however then just relying on these. With some effort they can be pried off. If your house is in a more remote area or your back of your house is not very visible to others, this can be an entry point for someone to get in. Having them installed strongly is a good step. Not having high vegetation in front of them is a good idea so there is visibility an no one can break in with a cover. of foliage. Even planting a prickly plant by windows can be a great deterrent and there are a lot of different types that grow here to choose from.
  3. Small windows should be considered for putting a window guard on them. Some people have used kids to go in through small windows and then open the front door from inside. One very good tip is to have a lock on your doors that are key only to exit. In most places this is against the building code because if there is a fire you need to escape your house in a hurry without finding keys (this however is not much of an issue here because fires are rare since everything is concrete). A key only lock does not have a thumb latch or any other way of opening it without a key. This means anyone that has broken into your house will need to exit the way they came in, not only will this make it hard for them but also make it hard to take things with them. These locks are relatively easy to install and some come with keys that are harder to duplicate or pick open.
  4. If you have an exterior door or gate, keep it locked when you are home. Nothing says ” the door is open, come on in” like the door being open. These gates only work when you lock them. Even if you are just running in and coming out soon, lock it to take any opportunities away.
  5. Having your windows open can give individuals an opportunity to snag your house keys that you left hanging next to the door or on the table. Keep keys out of sight or reach from open windows or doors that can be reached with a hook or stick. This actually happens here and is why we mention it!
  6. Don’t store items outside your house that can be used against you. Leave tools in a secured location and ladders locked up or out of reach. It just is not fair to help give tools to someone looking to get inside.
  7. Don’t show off what you have inside. The expression goes “out of sight, out of mind“. Having sheer curtains on windows in the day, closing your thicker curtains or blinds at night and not having your door open so passersby can look in avoids eyes seeing what you have and then thinking they might want to help you get rid of it.
  8. Be cautious with having contractors or vendors in your home. It is a necessity to have people come in to hook up cable TV, work on plumbing etc. but be mindful of what you have laying around before they come and put away things that might attract attention i.e. keys on a hook by the door, laptops, wallet on top of your dresser etc. Some very suspicious break-ins have happened shortly after workers have been in the property. People already can see your property from the outside, when they know the inside as well, it make it even easier to know how to get in and out. Using reputable companies or one with personal recommendations for service can be better even if it cost a little more.
  9. Change up your schedule and don’t be so predictable. People do notice you and if you are predictable as clockwork, then they know when you will not be home. You can have timers help you out by turning on radios or lights when you are not home. Most people here are retired or freelancers so changing your days up is  almost a part of life here.
  10. Watch who is around your place. If there is a construction site near your home or some odd looking people that have time to observe the area, sometimes break-ins happen when people are observing and area. Make sure your take note of the previous suggestion and make your comings and goings more random.
  11. If you are looking to buy in a condo complex or rent, ask management about crime in the area. Better yet, ask the maintenance people, not the top of management who would have something to hide from potential renters or buyers. Sometimes these people know the lowdown on things and can tell you what goes on in the neighborhood.
  12. Alarm companies are not that popular here. The police don’t really have time to reply to alarms going off. Even just having the sign that you have an alarm is not much of a deterrent as it is in other countries. The cost of installing one compared to the benefits is very small. Don’t just rely on this option.
  13. Be a nosey neighbor. It is amazing how much stuff goes on outside our homes if we only take the time to sit out front and watch. We may be so focused on our daily activities and coming and going from our homes to take time to see what goes on around us. Be a look out for your neighbors. A strong community is a great protection against crime. That little old woman that sits on her porch may be doing more for you then you know.
  14. Dogs, mans best friend can be the best alarm. Even having signs that you have a dog can be helpful like a “Beware of dog” (Cuidado con el perro ) sign or a dog dish.
  15. Keep exterior lights working or install motion detectors. Motion detectors are a great way to turn on lights when there is something outside your house. There is one on a neighbors house and every time it comes on when I walk by, I imagine someone on the other side of the door turning on the front light. It gets me every time. Just note that if you do buy a motion detector light just make sure you get one that you can adjust the sensitivity, you do not want it going off every time a leaf blows by it.
  16. Since most condos double as rental units, there are often safes installed. It is good to take advantage of these for items not used daily like cameras and jewelry. If your house or condo does not have one, installing one is easy to do and give another barrier to someone taking your valuables. Just note that when you install it, do so well. Simple screws into the closet can be broken in a second and that small safe can be taken and cracked open later.
  17. Peepholes in your front door is a good way to see who is at the door before opening it. It is interesting that these are not commonly used here. They are however easy to install in wood and metal doors. (However most crime here does not arrive at the front door when you are home.)
  18. If you are going away for an extended period of time, do you have hurricane shutters that can be closed? Do you have a management team that can check on your property or friends? There is not a lot of mail that comes here in Mexico, but if you are away try not to have your house look like no one is home. One step is not having flyers or mail stack-up outside. (Hurricane shutter may make your house look not at home but these are used daily sometimes to keep out sun)
  19. Look around your house or condo and see it as if you were trying to get in. Where are the weak points? Are there places that are easy to climb to second floor windows? Can someone access your roof easily and then gain access through upper windows that are open, perhaps without window guards? Are balconies easily reached? Are there items around the exterior of your house that can be taken easily? Is your fence in the back of your home low and easy to access your yard? These are just some things to consider.
  20. Have a plan if someone breaks into your house. Many robberies happen at night when people are sleeping. Most robbers are not carrying weapons except tools to break in. Having a lock on your bedroom door can give you a little room between you and a robber. Have your phone and phone numbers at hand so if you need to call the police you can. And as a last resort, some have bat handy or more powerful weapons.

The things mentioned in this article are not to scare people but only to give you tips to make your home safer and aware of local considerations that might be very different from where you lived before. Crime does happen but there is a lot you can do to prevent it.

For places to check out hardware see our article on Home Depot and Jako hardware store.

If you have any other tips. Please comment below. We love to hear from you especially when your tips can help your neighbors.

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