Early on the morning of February 18, residents of the Hacienda Los Laureles neighborhood of Tijuana captured a suspected burglar, roughed him up, and tied him to a utility pole until police arrived.
According to El Sol de Tijuana, at around 1:30 a.m., members of a neighborhood crime patrol heard children crying for help from inside one of the residences. When the neighborhood patrol members went to the home, they discovered a young man carrying two knives and trying to gain entry into the residence.
Once they had disarmed and subdued the suspected burglar (whom they said appeared to be under the influence of drugs), someone from the group called the police, but law enforcement was slow to respond.
“A witness who did not want to give his name reported that, even though they made the call to 911, 40 minutes passed and a police unit never arrived, so the same neighbors had to go in their cars to look for a patrol car on the closest boulevard so they would come for the criminal,” El Sol reported.
The unnamed witness told the newspaper that the neighborhood self-defense group was formed about a week before the incident because over the past couple of months burglaries and car thefts were becoming more frequent and police presence in the neighborhood was practically non-existent.
Because of the high rate of crime and the inability of police to provide adequate protection, similar vigilante groups have formed across Mexico.
According to the Tijuana daily El Mexicano, a similar incident occurred in April 2017 in the Villas del Alamo neighborhood.
In an April 11, 2017 story, the newspaper reported that a vigilante group captured two men who had allegedly attempted to commit robberies in the neighborhood.
The suspected thieves were roughed up, forced to strip, tied up with gray tape, and forced to march through the neighborhood to a nearby police outpost.
“It was 10:55 p.m. when two naked men arrived on foot at the police hut on Calle Paseo de Las Misiones,” El Mexicano reported.
The two suspects reportedly confessed to police that they were drug addicts who supported their habit by breaking into residences.