Are Robberies and Carjackings of Surfers on the Rise in Baja?

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  11.15.07 | 5:43 PM ET

imageIt’s hard to say because some crimes go unreported, but it’s clear there’s cause for serious concern. We recently wrote about a surf trip that went horribly wrong when three veteran surfers and Baja travelers were robbed and carjacked just off the road in northern Baja. Now, the San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that about six robberies and carjackings of surfers have occurred in Baja since June, according to “unconfirmed tallies reported via the Internet.” Among them was an attack at Cuatro Casas, a popular surfing and camping beach 200 miles south of the border.



Encenitas surfer Pat Weber had gone there with his girlfriend to get away from the smoke accompanying the San Diego wildfires.

Reports Anna Cearley and Terry Rodgers in the Union-Tribune:

Just after sundown Oct. 23, two men wearing military clothing and ski masks confronted the couple. Weber said he initially refused to come out of his motor home, but surrendered after the robbers fired a shot into the vehicle.

“They made us get down on all fours - execution position - and put guns to our heads,” said Weber, who owns the San Diego Surfing Academy in Carlsbad.

The gunmen sexually assaulted his girlfriend before stealing $10,000 worth of computers, video cameras and other gear, he said.

A similar robbery took place at Cuatro Casas in September.

The article quotes a number of longtime Baja travelers, including Weber, who say their Baja surfing days are behind them.

Related on World Hum:
* Surfing Mags Reporting Tale of Robbery, Carjacking in Baja
* Top 10 Foreign Cities for Americans to Get Arrested

Photo by mewtate via Flickr, (Creative Commons).


3 Comments for Are Robberies and Carjackings of Surfers on the Rise in Baja?

Dr Kent Layton 11.23.07 | 5:44 PM ET

I am outraged at the situation at cuatro casas point. I have always followed the suggestions of people that taught me to go to mexico safe. Never travel at night, Never hang out at the end of a road on the coast. If you are taking a pit stop , Stop on a hill so you can see in all directions ready to leave immediately if any vehicle. Also when you have passengers, make them seriously aware that if a car comes that you go immediately, a straggler can put all in jeapordy. Do not flaunt your wares.It is seen in Mex as a flaunt. They see it as showing off and that since it is visible that they might take it. Women need to be cute in the USA type tactic is considered a come on in Mex. Dressing conservatively is understood by looking around at the locals and seeing the standard of dress in the country you visit. Hiding $ and having your percept as a person with minimal means makes a less sparkling lure to the sharks. If you looked in the car I take to Mex you would think you were looking at a little kids room. I learned this from the Mexican frients I have. They pull valuables out of rubble or from under rusty car doors. Their perception of your perception effects their expectation of harvesting you.  Having 2 wallets doesnt hurt either. I personally dont buy anything in Mex. I buy all my food and beer in the USA it is cheaper even the mex beer! I dont stop except for the last gas station to fill up before going off road. I dont drive slow on dirt roads if cars are comming toward me either way. I am always polite to all that I meet so as to not be taught a lesson. Always show respect. I heard that the guys that lost their trucks surfboards, cycles kites were pulled over at the mex border check. Hmmmmm did they call ahead? The way you show respect at every contact may effect how you are treated. I would like to know who to send mail to to get a change in this policy of harvesting surfers. I think a good name for the campeign might be “Surfers Unite”: A individualized letter writing effort to get out and their presidents to take this threat seriously. The Generals probably have $ coming from the hotels and tourist industry. If they find the bottom line $ are dropping due to the harvesting of surfers It might prompt them to take care of the problem       K

Chris 05.09.08 | 10:55 PM ET

I am 38, my parents have lived in Baja since I was 17.  I have never had any problems with police, military or any other people in Baja.  I spent every summer and weekend in Baja for 7 yrs and lived there after the Military for 1 yr.  My daughters have spent their vacation swith their grandparents in Baja.  But now, I wont allow it, which sucks!  Chances are nothing will happen if you keep your head straight, be aware, dont flash cash or big credit cards.  Dont travel at night, dont travel before 6am.  Dont stop unless you have to and then make sure it is a well populated area.  Dont detail your car, truck or SUV before you go to baja.  Dont drive your mercedes or Escalade.

I have been robbed and beaten in Honduras, thats expected, but not expected in baja.  Reality check, people that want money will get it if they have the means to do so.

Ive been in Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Panama and El Salvador.  I made a mistake in Honduras, that was my fault.  I was lucky I lived, but I learned something that I allready knew. 

Dont be stupid!

Cartels are having problems with power struggle, Narcotics arent making it across the borders in the quantities they are acustom to.

Kidnapping is easy!  In less than five minutes you are pulled over, pulled out of your vehicle, bagged and put in another vehicle, a driver takes your vehicle, and you are stripped of total possesions.  Women and girls can be raped and guys and boys beaten.

There are plenty of real good people in Baja, but like in the U.S., there are plenty of bad ones as well and have badges!  Be smart, be safe and keep in mind that running to the police in Baja doesnt mean you are safe, it could mean the opposite!

Steve 05.17.08 | 3:50 AM ET

Bottom line - you’re out of your mind to travel in Mexico.

There’s nothing there worth the personal risk you take.

Unless you’re very connected to the locals (like family) and/or at least 400 miles SOUTH of the border, you’re nuts to travel there.

Read the comments above - why in the world would you want to go there? Join the Marines and head to Iraq—at least you get to shoot back.

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