A midday break-in on April 3 occurring during the 30-minute absence of the householders is the latest incident in a rash of at least nine confirmed burglaries reported in Riberas del Pilar since the first of the year.
According to the account posted on Facebook by neighbors, thieves kicked in the property’s gate and used crow bars to gain access to the house. They made off with two iPads, a television set and other assorted valuables, along with the victims’ passports and important personal papers.
Chapala police arrived promptly and were said to have been “very helpful.” At last report the victims were preparing to file a denuncia (criminal complaint) at the local Ministerio Pública (MP), equivalent to the District Attorney’s office.
Chapala Public Security chief Adán Domínguez avows that this is precisely the proper way of dealing with such misfortunes.
“If there is no denuncia, then officially nothing happened,” he stressed during an exclusive interview with The Guadalajara Reporter last week. He underscored this posture adding, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
Given that the identification, capture and eventual prosecution of burglars is rare in this country, Domínguez cites a recent case that points to the value of going through the motions. Based on reports that prompted a police investigation, establishment of a modus operandi and patrol tactics, on February 22 officers caught members of a criminal gang red-handed as they were leaving a Chapala property in possession of stolen goods and marijuana.
The male suspect and two female accomplices eventually confessed to involvement in 40 cases of burglary and auto theft committed in the Guadalajara metro area and at lakeside. They remain behind bars to face trial on robbery charges thanks to formal complaints lodged by three victims that included identification of the suspects, the taxi they employed as a getaway car and purloined goods.
Domínguez explained the protocol his officers are obliged to follow when called to a burglary scene or taking a report at Public Security headquarters. Employing a standard police report format called the IPH (informe policial homologado) they are required to outline the victim’s rights and ask whether the person wishes to lodge a complaint. If so, they will register a list of the stolen goods and their estimated value.
The victim may request the subsequent collection of evidence such as fingerprints, footprints, DNA matter and video surveillance tapes that may lead to the identification of the culprits.
The IPH is filed with the MP for the assignment of the investigation file number. Victims must follow up to register the denuncia with a verbal or written statement containing all pertinent information. Complainants are required to present valid identification (immigration document, passport, Mexican voter ID) and a document accrediting possession of the property where the crime took place (rental contract or property deed), all in original with two photocopies. Those who do not speak fluent Spanish should be accompanied by a trustworthy interpreter of their choice.
Although procedures may seem tedious and often fruitless, the police chief stresses it is the only pathway for the pursuit of justice.