Reporting Crime and Police Response Procedures
As part of ANA’s Collaboration on Crime Prevention
VEA is Vallarta’s new neighborhood-based crime prevention program – sort of a ‘Neighborhood Watch’ on steroids, providing instant reporting via Whatsapp, VEA is an acronym for Vecinos En Alerta – ‘Neighbors on the Lookout’ – and Amapas has been invited to participate.
In a recent example of VEA’s ability to summon immediate police response, last month ANA Board Member for Security Gene Mendoza used the Whasapp group to trigger a life-saving rapid response from authorities. It’s already working.
(This is the second in a series, drawing on ANA-Sponsored neighborhood/police meetings. You can find the first article on the ANA Website here.)
I called the police, now what?
After reporting a crime via Whatsapp, dialing 911 (or 089 for anonymous reporting), members of our neighborhood have asked what to expect.
The first response to reported crime or crime in progress is taken by the municipal police who will arrive and take action to stabilize the situation and coordinate care for any injured parties. With that accomplished, the police will make a report of what transpired including an initial report of any property losses.
Be sure to get a copy of the police report number for further reference, and email it to ANA Administrator Viviana Teston — firstname.lastname@example.org – for follow up.
The municipal police serve primarily as Preventive Police (Policía Preventiva) and do not investigate crime, but collect and catalogue crime information to identify emerging patterns or trends that might aid in future crime prevention. They pass their report up the chain of command for more complete investigation.
Investigation of the Crime by Agents of the District Attorney
No later than two to three days after the initial crime report is taken by the municipal police, victims should expect to be contacted by the investigative Ministerial Police who perform the preliminary investigation. These officers, from the District Attorney’s Office (Fiscalía), will collect and catalogue the crime information for the purpose of apprehending and prosecuting the perpetrators.
The formal preparation of victims’ statements is very important to the Mexican legal system, but the District Attorney stated in the February 16th VEA meeting that victims should not be required to visit the District Attorney’s Office to sign the formal translation of their statements.
Victims of property crime, including theft and burglary, should expect to be asked to demonstrate their ownership of the stolen property through sales receipts, model and serial number information, or the statement of a witness (friend or neighbor) vouching for the presence of the property before the crime.
Most cases of petty property crime will not require the use of Expert Services Unit more commonly referred to on TV as the crime scene investigators or CSI. However, in serious crimes, these services may be employed to take finger prints and other forensic evidence.
So, if you’re the victim of a crime, the arrival of the Municipal Police is just the beginning, not the end, of your involvement. If the Investigative Police don’t show up after two or three days, you should get in touch with the Fiscalía – see, we told you that police report number would come in handy – and follow up.
As the DA explained in our second meeting, every police force at every level has limited resources to pursue criminal cases, so they prioritize – the worst crimes, and crimes most likely to be solved, understandably get the most attention.
If your case is relatively minor, or unlikely to be solved (lack of witnesses, lack of evidence, etc.), it may not get the attention you think it deserves. If that’s the situation, it’s up to you to push the DA’s office for more follow-up.
You can also contact Tourism’s Legal Attention to Visitors Office, offering free legal assistance to tourists and resident expats. Their office in Cardenas Park is open Monday-Friday, 8 to 4. There’s also a desk in the Tourism office in the downtown City Hall, Monday-Friday, 8-8. English is spoken, and they offer help with translation. The office phone is 322-222-2224. Initial complaints can be made by email, preferably with details and photos included. The office email is email@example.com