Warning - Robbers in Baja
On the night of December 27 at approximately 9:30, while
sleeping in our trailer on the side of Mexican Highway 1 about
20 miles south of El Rosario, my husband Bill and I were robbed
of approximately $400. We awoke to the sound of three men
smashing their way into our trailer, by breaking a window and
opening the door. They were Mexicans in their twenties armed
with knives and a machete.
In addition to the money, they took my rings, a rechargeable
Makita flashlight, ransacked some food boxes, broke two windows
and the door on the trailer, broke the passenger window and wind
wing on our GMC truck and slashed a tire on the truck, in
addition to generally terrorizing us.
During the robbery (which took place over 15 minutes or so) the
robbers would turn the lights out in the trailer whenever a car
would pass. They spoke no English other than the word "money!"
The only Spanish words we understood were when they left, the
leader said "Nada paso aqui" (Nothing happened here!).
Once they left in their car (which we did not see) we proceeded
to try to leave, fearing they might come back to kill us. We
were unable to do so because of the slashed tire, and flagged
down a Mexican family who stopped reluctantly, probably out of
fear themselves. The father then proceeded graciously to help
change the tire, refusing to accept any money. The family then
followed us back to El Rosario where we drove around until we
found a policeman leaving the bus station in his truck with
another policeman and a European man. The European had been
robbed of all his money and car keys on the highway north of El
Rosario by another group armed with guns. The policeman gave us
directions to his home, and told us to wait while they went to
the European's vehicle.
We were unable to locate his house and ended up spending the
night next to a sea urchin processing plant, where workers
kindly told us to stay, under the vigilance of a night watchman.
The next day, we bought a new spare tire, and continued south on
our trip to our beach lot at Punta Chivato near Mulegé. We
informed the army at each drug and gun checkpoint we
encountered. After relating our experience to various Mexicans
and soldiers, we were told over and over how dangerous this
Sleeping by the side of the road is something we have done for
many years. We began this practice after a stay at a disgusting
government campground where I found a syringe near our site and
a variety of other horrors in the bathroom. We found the
beautiful desert a far more appealing campground. We have seen
many others camp in this manner, and have learned it is a common
practice among Baja veterans.
Although we were not hurt physically, the incident has
frightened us severely, and definitely changed our many-year
relationship with Baja. We are anxious to spread the word to
prevent others from this trauma and have some advice:
- Split up your money. Ours was in five locations, so they
didn't get it all.
- If it is getting late and you must pull off the road, do so
somewhere in a town. One group of soldiers suggested travelers
stay near their encampments.
- RV's are amazingly easy to open (they were inside our's in
seconds). Beef up your inside locks.
We love Baja and look forward to visiting again soon, but fear
things may be changing. We are concerned about rules not
enforced previously (such as tourist cards), that are now being
enforced along with a "request" for money. It seems everyone
has their hand out. Our attempt to register our trailer (due to
threats it will be confiscated March 1st if we do not) was
futile. We submitted the forms in Santa Rosalia (along with ten
dollars the customs agent requested for "gas money"), but he
never showed up.
Are things changing in Baja? Or do these problems come and go?
Who has influence with Mexican Tourism officials to relay the
problems there now? We're looking for reassurance, and will
appreciate comments from other Baja travelers.
P.O. Box 532
Placerville, CA 95667