It’s a sad truth, but car theft along the border states is bad, no matter which side of the border you are on. Arizona routinely makes the top ten car theft lists, year after year, and the trend shows no signs of stopping.
In the southwest, the ‘big’ cars are usually the targets – SUV’s, trucks, anything that can handle rougher terrain. But the truth of the matter is, anything with wheels and a motor is fair game.
Not surprisingly, having your car stolen in Mexico is a horrible experience, because it is complicated by things like
- The cross-border nature of the theft
- Having it happen in the midst of an unfamiliar justice system
- A whole class of bureaucratic stupidity I’ll just call “your insurance company’s policies on theft occurring outside of United States soil”.
My point is this: Car theft in Puerto Penasco is just as much of a problem as it is in Tucson, Phoenix, Ajo, Nogales, Sonoyta, San Luis, and anywhere else within about a 300 mile radius of the US/Mexico border.
Because of this, you should make sure to take some common-sense steps if you are driving. Perhaps you’ve heard these before, but here are some common car safety tips that bear repeating:
- Always lock your doors. Don’t forget to properly seal those little vent windows, either.
- Always park in well lit, public areas
- Never leave any valuables in the car
- Alarms? Good. Anti-theft devices? Also good. Ignition Locks? Even better. Are they are cure-all? Certainly not, but the more ‘layers’ of theft deterrent you use, the better.
- This is reiterated on our insurance page, but don’t leave your insurance policies sitting in the glovebox. They do you no good if they are still sitting in the glovebox of the car you just had stolen.
- Almost forgot – got OnStar? It’s completely worthless in Puerto Penasco, according to some of my readers. Read on for more ….
There are a few rental companies that allow their cars into Mexico. Enteprise rent a car is one of them. If you need to rent a car, you can click in the banner below:
Tammy and Bill had their 2005 Chevy Silverado stolen from a guarded, well-lit, crowded parking lot in Penasco on Feb 16th, 2007. The thing was even sitting under a motion light. Later on, they heard that another Chevy Silverado was broken into and badly damaged at another nearby establishment, so perhaps it was just a bad night for Silverados, but either way their truck was nowhere to be found.
Because of the local police dept’s hours (it was a Friday night) it took about 24 hours to file a report. In the course of waiting for the local PD to take the report, here’s where things really got interesting:
Tammy and Bill had purchased OnStar when they bought their truck. During the sales pitch, Tammy specifically asked the representative if OnStar worked in Mexico – specifically in Puerto Penasco – and were told that OnStar did, indeed, work in Puerto Penasco Mexico. Tammy says the representative even put them on hold to doublecheck it with a supervisor, but then reassured them ‘yes, OnStar works in this part of Mexico’, in no uncertain terms.
So what’s the first thing Tammy and Bill did once their truck was stolen? They called OnStar.
OnStar backpedaled, saying ‘OnStar does not work with Mexican authorities.’ OnStar then refused Bill’s request to turn on the GPS tracking until ‘a U.S. report was made and a U.S. law enforcement office was available’ to work with. (Remember this little tidbit in about three more paragraphs…)
Tammy and Bill hitched a ride back to the states and began the phone calls. They bounced from the Phoenix PD to the Tucson PD and so on. In short, it took about ten days and six hundred phone calls but they finally got a Phoenix DPS report filed and called OnStar back.
Here was OnStar’s response, in Tammy’s own words:
They are going to try to get a signal on our vehicle for the next 48 hours. If they get one, they will contact the police and their “Liaison” in Mexico to retrieve our vehicle in Mexico. She informed me that they will not have a location address in Mexico – only GPS coordinates.
At the end of the 48 hours, we have a ONE TIME opportunity to extend the time for another 48 hours and then they terminate their search. So in essence, we will have 4 days of them trying to locate the vehicle.
They also alerted us that if the vehicle has not been driven within the previous 48 hours, their signal will fade and they will not be able to locate it.
Literally minutes later, an OnStar representative called Tammy back and rescinded the entire thing. Tammy says their response this time was that OnStar ‘cannot help if your vehicle is stolen in Mexico – only if it is stolen on US soil and taken to Mexico.’
So, there you have it: OnStar is completely worthless for vehicles in Puerto Penasco, and if you have any doubts, talk to Tammy and Bill.
Reporter Tim Mello and I dug into this for quite a while – I have some hunches about why OnStar wouldn’t work in Sonora (it has to do with the OnStar technology and the Mexican phone network) and Tim rang some bells at OnStar – only to get this rather curt reply:
From: Contact Us email@example.comReply-To: firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject: Re: Share Story [#99098]Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 20:07:57 +0000 (GMT)Dear Mr. Mello,Thank you for taking the time to e-mail OnStar.We only offer the OnStar services in the United States and Canada.Please feel free to reply to this email if you have any other questions,call us at 1.888.4.ONSTAR (1.888.466.7827) or press your blue button.Sincerely,KristaOnStar Information Specialist
… which, while evading the initial question alltogether, more or less directly contradicts everything the OnStar reps told Tammy and Bill, ever. Gee, thanks, OnStar!
So the unfortunate ending to this rather long story is – don’t count on OnStar technology to lend you a hand if your ride gets stolen in Puerto Penasco. You’ll just be wasting your time.