Playa Del Carmen Crime Guide for Residents

driving Riviera Maya
Police helping motorist in Playa Del Camen

Is Playa Del Carmen crime something to worry about as a resident? What things do you need to be aware of? We wanted to write this article to keep residents aware of current trends and what things you might need to keep aware of. This article is not meant to scare anyone, we are just mentioning some of the things that everyone in the world has to deal with living in a city.

Note: If you are a tourist you will want to read our article focusing on is Playa Del Carmen safe? This can also be good for residents to read as well, especially if you like to go out at night.

Playa Del Carmen Crime Guide

Everyone wants to feel safe where they live. People also want to know what crime is like in a city before moving there because this can be a deciding factor. Safety is a concern to everyone. So what is the lowdown on Playa Del Carmen crime? Here are the things you need to be aware of and the things you don’t really need to worry about. We also add practical things for you to help you avoid some crimes.

Home burglary in Playa Del Carmen

Lets start with your home.  This is where you should always feel secure. You also spend a a lot of time there. Having someone enter your home when you are there or not can be a violation of your space, leaving you feeling vulnerable. What is the situation with home burglary  in Playa Del Carmen?

The truth is, it happens. This is perhaps the most common crime that residents have to deal with. The really unspoken truth is  the chance of catching a burglar is very slim. When a home robbery happens the police do not come in with a forensics team and dust for prints. A report is taken down and most likely you will see the police patrol more frequently for the next week. This does not seem to be a big deterrent to someone who habitually tries to break into other peoples homes. And that is why break-ins are an issue of safety in Playa Del Carmen.

This is not a matter to avoid moving to Playa Del Carmen or to make anyone to move away. It is just good to say it out loud that it happens and good to be aware so you can help prevent it. How often? Well, most people know of someone that had their house entered. So the best defense is to understand why this happens. We will discus this next.

Crimes of opportunity

Many of the home burglaries are a crime of opportunity. What does this mean? Burglaries in Playa Del Carmen are not very pre-meditated jewelry heist. They happen sometimes because a person left the door or window open, or they see a way to make a quick grab of something.

As Playa Del Carmen grows, there are growing pains. One of those pains are people moving to Playa from other parts of the country that do not have the same morals as others. Another factor are changing neighborhoods. Sometimes you will have a neighborhood that has been the same for a period of time. They have basic houses and all the sudden a multi million condo or condos goes up next to it. In some shoulder neighborhoods you can see trends of people coming into them and there seems to be more crime because the friction.

 Playa Del Carmen Crime
A new condo building going up in Playa Del Carmen.

How to prevent crime to your home

So now that you know it happens, what can you do to prevent it? Here are some very specific things that you can do to deter theft from your home.

  • Think like a thief. Look at your home or condo and see what the weak points are? Is there easy access to second floor windows that perhaps do not have protectors? Remember, metal bars on windows can be removed fairly easily especially when not in view of other people. Don’t count on these to protect you 100%. 
  • Keep laptops, cell phones and other portable electronic devices out of sight while stored. These are the first items most thieves look for. If they are not easily found, then it might save you. Having a habit to keep these on a bookshelf or a kitchen drawer when not in use is a good idea. 
  • Know your condo management or security people that work in your neighborhood. We have mentioned it in another guide that it is good to ask people that work in the condo office what crime is like in that neighborhood. Sometimes these people and maintenance people will give you a good picture of what happens.
  • Find out what security is in place in your neighborhood. Is your building installing cameras soon? Are their neighborhood watches? Do all the lights around work?
  • Actually lock your doors and windows. Many times people don’t lock their front door especialy if they just came  home with groceries. This gives people an easy access to your home. 

For many more tips on keeping your home safe see our article here.

Your online safety in Mexico

We wanted to mention some popular scams in Mexico that can fool some. This crime can be avoided once you know about it and take some steps to prevent it.

  1. You get a phone call saying a relative is in need of help and they ask for money. They ask for money to be wired or transferred. This  popular scam is done when people get your phone number or randomly call you. Sometimes people only guess that you have certain relatives and make up a story. It comes in several forms like a relative has had a car accident or someone is even kidnapped. This scam can catch you off guard and the confusion might move you to give money to these scammers. Knowing where your family is and keeping personal information out of easy reach is good for avoiding this crime. If you have a doubt that there might actually be a kidnapping because the people describe what the person is where on that day or other details, take your time. Ask questions and take a moment to call the relatives cell phone. 99.99999999999999999999% of the time this is a scam.
  2. You get official looking emails from Mexican Banks, Government agencies or credit card companies. This can be confusing especially if your Spanish is not the best. You might click on a link in the email. This is a phishing scam to get your personal information. It is good to familiarize yourself with what emails you get from your bank and what they say.
  3. There are many 55 numbers that call people in Mexico. Many of these are banks in Mexico City with credit card offers. Many times these can be a scam and you don’t really know if it is your bank. The rule is, if you want a credit card, go in person to your bank. 

In cases like these it is important to keep your personal information private. Keeping Facebook settings private and not putting too much information out there helps make it harder for scammers to call with exact details.

One recent example of people giving away their personal information was in a mall with a survey. They asked several questions including phone number. Later they used the information to call the people for money and the survey was a total front. Again be careful with your personal information.

Playa Del Carmen crime concerning driving

The is the second main area we will look at in regards to crime in Playa Del Carmen. We will talk about three areas to look at.

  1. Bike crime.
  2. Moped safety issues.
  3. Car crime.

Bikes in Playa Del Carmen

It is a fairly well known fact that bike theft is common in Playa Del Carmen. In our bike guide to Playa Del Carmen we recommend a good u-lock. Chains and cheap locks are no match for a bike thief. They can be cut in seconds.

Besides getting a good lock for your bike you can do the following things to reduce crime to you.

  • Buy a bike to fit your needs and not over it. Most people only use a bike to go around town. You most likely don’t need a triathlete bike. If you are going to be parking it around town, a basic bike is less of a target and less to loose if it gets stolen.
  • Park bikes at home inside. Even inside your fence, a bike can be a target
  • Paint your bike a crazy color. Having a unique color will make it easier to find and less desirable to steal. Although we should mention many bikes are painted after being stolen.
  • Many bikes in Playa Del Carmen are similar in make and shape. You can etch or write your name on the bike somewhere. In case it is taken and you think you see it, you can check.
  • Do not ride your bike on the pedestrian section of 5th Avenue or park it there. Not only is it not legal to ride, the police might take your bike when you lock it there. That is not allowed either, albeit an little known law.

Issues with Moped, motorcycles and scooters

Sometimes these get stolen but it is more likely parts can be taken. Since these are easy targets, it can be hard to prevent. Here are some tips for owning a scooter so you can avoid theft.

  • Try to park it at your home off the street. Out of sight, out of mind sort of philosophy.
  • At night is when more theft of parts occurs. If you are out at night park in a well lit area.
  • Get to know your scooter. Many of the batteries are easy to steal. Think of way to make taking off mirrors or battery harder.

For more on having a scooter in Playa Del Carmen see our guide here.

Playa Del Carmen crime

Cars in Playa Del Carmen and crime

The good news is that cars are rarely ever stolen in the Rivera Maya. The only thing that many get taken are your hubcaps. This is why you see many people have a plastic tie on them which makes it harder to pop them off.

The main thing you have to worry about with your car is being involved in an accident. Accidents happen but it can be a crime when someone tries to blame you for it. Here are ways you can be prepared in case you have an accident.

  • Make sure you have your phone with you, this comes in handy if you have to contact your insurance and also take photo.
  • Take photos of the accident and even video.
  • Make sure you have insurance that covers liability in Mexico. This is the law and a crime if you do not have it.
  • If you are in an accident with a taxi (more common then it should be) make sure you take extra care especially if it was not your fault.
  • If one of the two parties does not admit fault, you should not move the cars.
  • Traffic police will try to get both parties to come to a settlement. Make sure you understand all papers that are made and don’t rush to any agreement that is not correct.

Car break-ins

This is not a big issue on the street, but it does happen. Never leave anything visible in your car. If you are parking at  parking lot where you give your keys, especially check for things you want to take with you, there have been a very few reports of unscrupulous people stealing from cars at lots when they have the key. 

Parking at grocery stores especially under ground parking or remote area offer criminals a cover to break in. Avoid parking in the darker corners or more remote places. Parking outside in the sun almost will eliminate people trying to break into your car. 

Thieves target bags and things in the trunk. Radios, not so much. Often people are watching people arrive and put things in the truck, so don’t store things or alert people that you have things in your car when you park. 

Do not add to crime

What happens when you get a traffic ticket in Mexico? It is best to pay it. Do not commit a crime and add to issues with bribery.

Most of the time when you are pulled over you are only given a warning. Some people freak out and automatically get ready to give some money out the window. Not only is this illegal, it also adds to corruption and you probably have just given away money you did not need to pay.

Playa Del Carmen Crime you do not need to worry about

It is always nice to mention the good news as well. As mentioned above you do not need to really worry about car theft. This is very uncommon. Here are some crimes that are not prevalent in Playa Del Carmen.

  • Pickpocketing on 5th Avenue. Remarkably one would think that with the amount of tourist on 5th Avenue that this might be a temptation for thieves, but no.
  • Murder and assault happen most as domestic violence  or by associate. So this crime is likely not to effect you.
  • Hijacking a car- this is unheard of.
  • Drugs. They are offered on 5th Avenue to tourist that look like they would buy them. The actual rate of drug users that live locally is very low. This reduces drug related crime. Drug organizations for the most part know that having  a safe environment for tourist is good for business. Yes there are drug organizations in Playa Del Carmen and there have been recent shootings in the downtown area. This has been inner organized crime killing. This does worry residents here in both affecting tourism and quality of life. If this escalates we will update this section.
  • Rape is not too common but does happen. Violent rape and attacks from unknown people are not heard of that much. The one area where unwanted sexual attention can come from is going out drinking. This can lead to rape or remorse over a drunken night and sexual encounter. Most residents that live in Playa Del Carmen do not go out parting heavily, so rape is not an issue that really affects residents.  Even among tourist is not a major issue and no more of an issue then any party town in the world.
  • Kidnapping is really unheard of.


We hope you are more aware at issues in Playa Del Carmen concerning crime. It is an unfortunate thing that we have to deal with in paradise. Playa Del Carmen is a fairly safe place to live and the Yucatan Peninsula overall is very safe to live in.

We feel by not sweeping it under the carpet and keeping it in the open, it can help people prevent crime and also be more prepared. Reporting crime will help keep it on the radar of officials and hopefully move them to take measures to deal with it more.

If you have any comment about Playa Del Carmen crime or safety please comment below. Are there any tips you would like us to include in this article?

About The Author


  1. I have been living in Playa for 5 years now and have seen some changes. It is hard to tell because when you are here for a while you hear more stories of crime and then it seems to build in your head. I would say that home break ins are the number one thing that is troubling. I am glad your article highlights some of this issues in our city so residents can be aware.

    • This place is lawless. If you go downtown exspecialy 12 and 5 I have had 2 phones stolen. I paid a bill in cash the waiter pick up check turns changes money and hands it back. This happened at wine o’clock he did not see other person check bill before he picked it up so I no I am correct changing a 500 to 50 happens a lot in town

  2. I commend you for finally saying something about the crime here. One thing to look for is there are mang young gangs working the area. Sometimes in pencil on the outer wall of your house is gang code for when you leave,how many live there etc. If you see strangers just watching houses or apartments take a foto,call police. Neighbor watch is rwally grabbing hold because most times the police are involved. Drugging women in clubs is common 12th. 20 av. Has become snatch and grab on motos. Don’t leave cameras,computers etc in your car or you will have a smashed window and lost property. As anywhere be aware of your surroundings. Thanks Seth for bringing this out in open.

  3. Had my phone and wallet stolen walking home a few nights ago, need a police report for insurance purposes, how do I go about getting this here in Playa del Carmen?

    • Sorry to hear that happened. One of the easier ways would be to start with the tourist police. It is easier to get someone what speaks English. There is a office on Juarez Avenue between 15th and 20th Avenues. There is also a small stand on Constituyentes and 5th Avenue. After you have done it, if you have any tips for other readers, please leave a comment here. Thank you.

  4. Hi there!
    Just wanted to warn some of the tourists. My rental was hijacked this morning while we were having breakfast at 5th Avenue and CMT, we park right on the corner of these streets and were in a restaurant for 20 mins, when we came back the car was unlocked and everything inside it was gone.
    We filed a report with the tourist police and then they sent us to file another report with the public ministery.
    The car lock was forced with a screwdriver and was park just a block away from the tourist police station on Av CTM between 1st and 5th.

    • Hello Vannesa
      Thank you for your comments. So sorry to hear this. This is not a common occurance so it is surprising and we hope this is not a new trend.

  5. ATM on end on 5th Avenue has scanner on it beware. You won’t get money out but you’ll find that out after you have inserted your card and punched in your code. Dummy cards are being made. Hope they catch those losers!

    • Yes the atms on 5th are notorious for issues. We do worn people about them and recommend only using bank atms. Sorry this happened to you.

  6. Regarding pickpockets on 5th, my experience was different than what you suggest. We were walking from the ferry to the ADO office with luggage. We were ignoring the touts, but one shouted, “You dropped your wallet!”, a common but effective trick to get you to show the thieves where you keep your money. I have a high security fanny pack, so didn’t lose anything, but I could tell that they tried.

    The crush of people getting off the ferry and claiming luggage is another area that’s ripe for pickpockets.

    It’s not just Mexico or Playa. Crowds of people attract pickpockets everywhere. Might I suggest revising your comment to suggest a more cautious posture?

    • We still have not heard stories of pick pocking+ being a problem in Playa Del Carmen. It is kind of amazing with as many tourist walking around. We have personally seen them say “hey you dropped your wallet” but not even one person tried anything. It was more bewildering why they said it. Maybe in out case they were just trying to have fun with people and see who was honest. As with any major tourist destination, people should not be walking around with open purses and loose pockets.

  7. HIya. Sadly we have been pickpocketed recently and had our credit cards stolen. Then they went on a spending spree in the next few hours before we realised that our cards we gone. It does happen.

  8. March 11 2019 shopping for groceries at Wal-Mart. In store for maybe 15 mins. Purse with my meds that cant be replaced a bit of money and my cell phone… snatched right out of cart where I had it stashed behind food and other sundries. It happened as I reached to get cut meat at deli. I noticed right away. Didn’t see the thief they were so fast. I was frantic and staff and security were pretty much indifferent…not a single care. They told me to stand at the door and watch for my stuff while they did nothing. And people with backpacks exited the store in droves. I searched all over the store…like looking for needle in haystack. They told me after I pushed for it that video show3d nothing. Hmmmm really? And they refused to call police.i need a report and there is no police officer who will give me one or speaks English. Advice?

    • Hello Barb

      Thank you for you comments. It is good to hear incidents that happen so others can be on the watch. We are sorry this happened to you. Two options is go to the tourist police and ask if they have help you get a report or go to the Canadian Consulate office and ask for help.

    • We just returned from Playa del Carman and my husband was pickpocketed in the checkout line at the same Walmart. Our guard was down because the thief was a woman with her husband/young children AND they were speaking German, so even though they looked Spanish it seemed like they were tourists too. She came up behind us to look at the candy. It felt weird that she was invading our personal space but we didn’t clue in and we are the type that would normally know this was a red flag. We have since learned that they were probably Argentinian, since German is spoken there in some areas. She also had dyed her hair blonde, so she looked less local, probably to look less suspicious. She stole my husband’s iPhone but we didn’t notice for about 20 mins when we were back at the resort. He went back to Walmart right away but of course, it was too late. I had his iPhone connected to mine with “find my phone”, so once the thief connected to the internet, we knew exactly where the phone was (two blocks from the Walmart) and my husband went there with the police and they were useless (and likely knew what was going on in the building as they were stationed across nearby) We also tried to negotiate with the thief via text for a reward but nothing. We learned that the likely scenario was that the original pickpocket sold the phone to the “processors” (for $5) and then it was wiped for resale or parts. Final take away: When you are a tourist, you are a target for thieves any where that you travel and you can NEVER let your guard down, even when around fellow “tourists”. We did not ask WM for video b/c we knew it was a waste of time and we didn’t want the theft to consume our vacation. Thank goodness for our carrier and Apple, absolute rock stars helping us out.

      • Thank you for posting your story. It is important to hear details so others can be on the lookout.

  9. Thank you. I keep trying but my Spanish is not good… and no luck finding one that speaks English. Been trying for 5 days.

    • Consulates are often every helpful. They keep track of crime and often have contacts and weekly meetings with officials to talk about issues their citizens are having in the area.

  10. Hola,
    I recently witnessed a gang fight right on 5th Avenida at around 7:30 pm. There were small children near. But that’s not all. Two yrs ago I was robbed in my condo while I was in my bdrm. Mexicans had climbed a tree and over my deck on the second floor to then steal my wallet w/credit cards, cash & ID, my camera and prescription sunglasses. A week prior our bikes were stolen and a dozen other bikes in our complex in PDC. Drugs are offered everywhere.
    My husband & I have travelled to Mexico and area since 2003. We’ve noticed the change in crime and increased beach seaweed/ daily helicopter surveillance. We have decided not to return to this ‘paradise’ next winter vacation.

    • Are you referring to you or someone that perhaps broke into your house? If you are US citizen you can contact the US Consular Agency for directions. Usually it is not long unless it was a major crime. For people that get caught breaking an entrance, the time is not that long in jail as well. It depends on the case. Most people are never caught.

  11. After reading all these comments I am very afraid to move to Playa. If crime is in the rise why retire there and live your life in fear. One would think the govt and local police would work very hard to control the crime issues.

    • There is crime and that is a fact. Some find it safer than where they move from and others find smaller communities in the Riviera Maya to live. It might be something that you have to visit to see how you feel before taking a decision.

  12. I decided to spend my winter in playa since my country of choice is closed st the moment. I rented a local condo, and loved playa, too fast though. My 4th day in playa, it was just after 10pm. I had met friends for wings and a drink. I stopped ar OXXO to use the atm to restock some pesos and as I walked out I was stoppes by policia municipal. In basic english, I was told i met the description of someone buying drugs. To be clear, im a 39yo firefighter and paramedic who doesnt use drugs. I voluntarily allowed them to search me. The officer produced a small blue bag with a powder substance and claimed it was in my back pocket. They wsnted me to pay to go. I refused. Long story short, they stole my money, phone, credit card, and put me in jail for 8 hours (while they atrempted credit card fraud with my cars) before relesding me with a “fine” of 3000 pesos but eithout paper work. Having second thoughts about mexico. I have spoken to a very receptive internal affairs officer since. Will update as i learn more

    • Thank you for your story. We have heard more cases of problems with the police. It is good to use the Guest Assist app from the Riviera Maya Tourism board to report it and also to your consulate. The people at all the consulates meet with local authorities to report problems. It might not do anything for your case, but it does help keep accurate information on what is going on and it can be brought to the attention of community leaders.

    • Happen to my buddy and I as well we rented a motel in playa del carmem and parked our rented car on the street so we went after supper to get the rest of luggage bags with each having a beer on our hand we stood by the car for a bit and talked and noticed a white truck circling around the block and soon a police truck as well and next thing the police stopped behing our car n turn their lights on and said we were
      under arest for drinking and public 36hours in jail then it was they had to search us for coke in our pockets so they found nothing but the one search me again while the other kept my buddy busy talking so he couldn’t see what was happening while searching me the police man said (dont move) then he looked through my wallet and if I tried turning to look he got more aggressive and I could hear he was counting my money bills and soon said I was good he walked straight to his truck while the other guy was still talking and I noticed I was missing quite a bit of money at least over 3000 pesos that the police took out of my wallet so we said to this talking police the other guy took our money and then right away the other guy come from his truck with some pocket change n said you say I stole your money you wanna go to jail to figure it out? N that wasn’t even my pocket change he showed. But ether way they had us because drinking in public n If they would have tooken us to jail we’d end up paying to get out so we got off quickly but im a little disappointed to see the police them self being the thieves wasn’t expected. Just a heads up to everyone watch what you do and don’t trust no one figured id share it here as well happen January 2021

  13. I wouldn’t recommend staying there long term it is not safe. The police are constantly harassing tourists . I rented an airbnb near the beach, I was harassed yesterday during the day by two police on a truck . I was just walking with my towel and they stopped me. I didn’t have anything valuable so they let me go after pushing me around and searching my belongings. I do not feel safe anymore going to the beach or anywhere really. I just want to leave i do not recommend this place. I tried calling 911 after to explain the incident and they hanged up on me.

    • Hello Frank

      There have been more reports of police stopping people on the street. We recommend reporting this to the official help page/app from the Riviera Maya tourism board. This can help highlight problems that people are having and it can help resolve issues that people are having.

  14. The police are thieves. The postal service are thieves. I’m never coming back here. My friend and I were stopped by the police. They searched us and took our money. No interest in our ID. No questions. The postal service stole a bank card that was mailed to me. They set the status of the tracking number to “returned, bad address”. A couple days later it was declined for an attempted $1.00 charge to Dropbox.

    • Thank you for your comments and we are sorry to hear your experience. Since these are sever allegations about one place or person, we will omit the details. It is also better fit to the tourist guide to safety in Playa (in that guide we do mention situations like this). One further step is to contact your consular agency or consulate. They can help you with directions to report to the proper authorities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.