The news flowing northward out of Baja California of late paints a worrisome portrait. More and more Americans are being attacked, robbed and murdered. Here are some news items from just the past two months. Many of these items were never reported in US newspapers:

September 2, 2011 - American Susan Bushong, 52-years of age, stopped her car in Rosarito to look at a curio store. When she came out she saw a man inside her car removing items. The man saw her and ran to a waiting car and fled.

September 10, 2011 - Long time Baja resident Ronald Hoff, 56-years old and his wife were attacked by three robbers near their home in San Quintin. Hoff was brutally beaten and left unconscious. When his wife, Cristina, came to his rescue the men attacked her, knocking her unconscious and cutting her throat before dumping her elsewhere. Both survivied the attack and are slowly recovering but will need further surgery and may never fully recover.

October 3, 2011 - The body of Margaret Katherine Reeves, 42-years old, and originally from Los Angeles, was discovered in a public cemetery in Ensenada. She was killed by a blow to her head. Police believe she was murdered elsewhere and her body was dumped in the cemetery.

October 4, 2011 - American Howie Lange has lived in San Juanico, Baja California Sur for 15 years. Four masked and armed men broke into his home, kicked him in the stomach and demanded all the money in the home, which was $5,000. They then tossed him into a SUV and drove him miles into the country, put a gun to his head and choked him with a rope. They left him there, a 2-1/2 hour walk back to town.

October 19, 2011 - American Robert Paul Frey, 66-years old, was bashed over the head in his own home in Ensenada by a young Mexican couple who rented another home from him. They tied him hand and foot with adhesive tape, taped his mouth, and then strangled him with a rope.

Comments

crossborder_kenn Oct. 26, 2011 @ 4:33 p.m.

Fulano: "More and more Americans are being attacked, robbed and murdered"? Not sure what your source of data is, but that's not really an accurate statement. In fact, the opposite is much more likely given that crime rates across the State of Baja CA are actually declining (and have been since they peaked in 2008). In fact, so far this year "More and more Americans are being" murdered in San Diego -- when you compare 2011 YTD versus 2010... So, data's important for such statements (and the data is showing overall a 35% reduction in homicides this year in Baja generally, so I don't think "more and more" is probably true).

There might very well be more "reporting" of crime, which could make it look scarier (and fit the tone of the article), but it's also important to have additional context: the reality is that there are over 150,000 "Americans" (US citizens) living in Baja California, so it's equivalent to the population of a decent sized city. Stealing from a car happens in cities, so no surprise that it may also happen randomly to a US citizen in Baja too.

Last point: it can be confusing to reader that you include an event from San Juanico, Baja California Sur (over 800 miles from Tijuana) as one of your examples about crimes in "Baja". We both know technically it's right, but most people in San Diego (and SoCal) probably assume you mean the "Baja" they might visit...

I enjoy reading your articles, but thought it could be helpful to offer some additional insights on the security issues there, since we analyze such info on a regular basis.

-Crossborder Kenn

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Fulano de Tal Oct. 26, 2011 @ 7:50 p.m.

The City of Playas de Rosarito publishes Baja California crime statistics monthly on their website. It shows the total crime index is up when compared to 2010.

http://www.rosarito.gob.mx/rosaritov/SeguridadPublica/cargarTablero.aspx?titulo=Tablero%20Delictivo%20Agosto%202011&file=Tablero%20delictivo%20Agosto.pdf

Certain high impact crimes are up significantly. For instance, home robberies, which impacts Americans more as they tend to leave their Baja homes unattended for long periods, are up 20% this year when compared to 2010. Violent robberies (not in homes) are up 5%. The total Baja California crime index for August, 2011 is up 16% when compared to the same month in 2010,

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crossborder_kenn Oct. 27, 2011 @ 1:44 a.m.

True, they are using statistics that are now collected monthly by the State of Baja (a move toward transparency that even some municipalities in the US don't do). That that same set of stats shows that Rosarito's total crime is only up 1% (Jan-Aug) compared to 2010, and still significantly below peaks in 2008 and 2009 - which is what I was referring to earlier when saying that the tone of the post (i.e.: "...paints a worrisome portrait. More and more Americans are being attacked, robbed and murdered.") isn't reflected in the data.

True, there are monthly variations (so comparing Aug 2010 vs Aug 2011 can show substantial movements - particularly in a city where very few total incidents happen... look at "Robo con Violencia" - up "100%" when comparing Aug2010 vs Aug2011, but the reality is the next month it could easily be down 40% or 80%, since there are so few total incidents).

Also, it's an assumption that home robberies are particularly hitting Americans more than resident Baja Californians. It might sound logical (and it could very be the case -- although it might also be assumed that temporary residents from the US leave fewer valuables, so aren't as attractive a target as full-time residents), but citing general trends and assuming that those trends affect one category of residents over others just isn't backed up by the data.

That's not to say that crime doesn't happen in Baja, like everywhere. But it's important to provide those not familiar with enough info (and fact-based conclusions) so that there aren't misinterpretations about the levels of risk (which are already hyped enough in general media without much regard for being up-to-date or necessarily accurate). The case you cite of Mr. Hoff is indeed tragic, but it was reported that he actually intervened in a robbery - saw some punks trying to steal a vehicle, and went after them, at which point he himself became a victim. That could happen anywhere in San Diego, too - so isn't really a case of targeting Americans... More tragic certainly is the case with Mr. Frey - who appears to have been a good, community-oriented expat that was viciously attacked and murdered without cause; the only slim piece of slightly positive news from the situation was the speed with which the police investigated and, yes, captured two suspects that are now being held for his murder - something that wouldn't necessarily have happened so quickly 10-20 years ago.

Anyway, again, no intention of being argumentative - maybe it's time to start my own blog here! Thanks again for the dialogue, and for your consideration of my comments.

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Fulano de Tal Oct. 27, 2011 @ 7:53 a.m.

I would point out that your Spanish comprehension needs some polishing. Those stats say that crime is up 1% in all of Baja California, not just Rosarito.

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crossborder_kenn Oct. 27, 2011 @ 3:17 p.m.

Hmmm... thanks for pointing that out. While you might be making another leap on my "Spanish comprehension", maybe (just maybe) it might have something to do with reading that at 1:30am in the morning! But, no excuses, right? Yep, my mistake...

...That said...I think even that tiny mistake only proves my point: a "1% Statewide increase in total crime" neither deserves the dire/warning tone of the article (really the point of this discussion), nor does any of the data in the SSP statistics imply any focus on Americans as crime victims.

I think it's pertinent to this discussion that the very data that you've cited also shows a very significant downward trend in ALL major crime categories Statewide except home robberies from late-2008 and 2009 to the present. It's one thing to write a dramatic headline and to put out some very selective incidents to back up that headline, but the fact is looking at the stats (and the experience myself and everyone I know on the ground in Baja is having) is that security and confidence in security has been improving (even for Americans) compared to 2-3 years ago -- not getting worse.

I'll keep on working on my Spanish comprehension, and appreciate your patience with my commentaries. Thanks again.

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Fulano de Tal Oct. 28, 2011 @ 8:37 a.m.

Here's another one....

The body of an American man around 75-years old, in an advanced state of decay was found inside his home Wednesday night, October 26, 2011. The home was on parcel 21, in the area of Cañón San Carlos in Ensenada.

The body was found in one of the rooms and was tied up hand and foot. The body was found by a cleaning person who came to the home and noticed a strong odor.

People familiar with the deceased said they only knew him as "Jerry," and he was a peaceful and serious person who did not speak much as he knew little Spanish, but was not a problematic person.

http://www.elvigia.net/noticia/encuentran-extranjero-asesinado-en-su-vivienda

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mngcornaglia Nov. 12, 2012 @ 10:42 p.m.

"Many of these items were never reported in US newspapers"

that's correct, so keep posting fulano... your work is important and appreciated... gc...

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