Monday, September 20, 2010

The Saga Of B's Stolen Car Sept 2010

We have a guest blogger today!

My friend B had her car stolen in Guadalajara
last week.
In her own words:
Hi friends

Well, Friday started out pretty well, but when I exited the IMSS hospital in Guad ( doctor appt.) I was totally dumbfounded too see the empty space across the (very busy) street where I had left our car 1 1/2 hours before! At first I could not even react. Then I didn't really know what to do next. All the insurance documents (including phone numbers etc.) were in the car, since I always knew it might be in an accident but never dreamt it would get stolen! (That's why we left the dents it had suffered when parked in three different places -- hoping it would be a deterrent! haha) I didn't even have the phone number of the insurance agent in Riberas.

Some guys at the taxi queue said they would flag down a cop so we could report the licence plates, but of course none were to be seen. Finally one of them convinced me we should go to the Procuraduria de Justicia to file the report (required). We opted for the closer one of two, in the industrial district, and of course when we got there (in the pouring rain) they said "oh no, you can't report stolen cars here .. you have to go downtown to the main office".

Off we went, flagging down a police truck along the way while stopped at a red light near Parque Azul so the taxi driver could show the cops my little registration card and they could post the plates on their radio. Arriving at the P de J, we parked the cab in a parking lot (haha) and were told by someone "official" that before we could file the report we would have to go to a pay phone, call 066, and get a report number from the national cop's hot line. I had a phone card, but reading all the info back and forth along side Calz. Independencia (very major roadway) in mid'day traffic was no easy task.

Back in the P de J, report number in hand, they then asked for "enlarged" copies of my ID and the little car ID car that comes annually from the state. (I must add here that they visibly brightened when they saw my Mexican voter's card, signifying citizenship!) Go across to Farmacia Guadalajara they said. Sure. They don't do enlargements. Neither did the next 4 copy places (all nearby) but finally there was one who could. Now back to the P de J. Get a form to fill out. Do that. Come back, and while waiting for the next move go out (on the street again) and call A. to tell him why I'm not home, and to notify the insurance agent!

Now get sat in front of a woman at a computer who (1) was a worse typist than I am and (2) seemed quite new on the job. In her computer up came a complaint "form" -- which in Mexico means a tremendously long, wordy, document with lots of extraneous text. Does it have places to fill in the requisite info! Don't be silly! This is a complete deposition from SOMEONE ELSE'S CAR THEFT! What she has to do is go line by line, deleting out the wrong info and adding mine at the appropriate places!

Since she can't type she makes a lot of errors (lucky I can see the screen and can show her), and she has a really bad time with long series of numbers/letters like serial number, engine number. etc. Then of course she gets REALLY confused by my name (Mexicans have two last names -- one from father's side, one from mother's) so I have to help her a lot with that one.

Some very long time later we are done, and she prints the complaint for me to proof read. (front and back
of 8 1/2 x 13 page!!) Since it's OK she prints more and I sign my life away. Then I get another form from her with a new official number on it, and instructions that I learn later I didn't fully understand, and we're done. For now.......

Somewhere along the way in this odyssey I cut a deal with the taxi driver to bring me all the way home, as I was not in shape by now to go to the bus depot and take the bus. So the next stop was the Nissan dealer where I was now 2 hours late for my appt. to have the windshield wiper mechanism changed. They were very compassionate, and even agreed to give me back the 600 pesos deposit I had left with them in Wed towards this service (the receipt being in the glove compartment of the car!).

Taxi driver was a really nice guy who, it turned out, had lived and worked in Seattle (cook in two major hotels) 12 years before. He has only been driving a cab 2 years, and remarked that I seemed to know the city better than he did!  haha  Since he learned almost no English in the hotel kitchens, our conversations (as with all the others) were totally in Spanish.

Later at home I talked to a Mexican friend who was aghast that the insurance agent told A. they would get the adjuster out Monday to do his report. She seemed certain you have to do this in the first 24 hours, so I got out my payment receipt, went online, and found an 800 number. They were great, and sent a man out from the city within   90 minutes. During that conversation, I learned that I have to return to the city (how?) with
the car's original invoice as well as the original annual registration etc. payment ONLY from 2 - 4:30, and preferably next Wednesday! I'll learn more about this tomorrow when I go to the agency here.

Now, of course, comes the hard part. Car rentals are very expensive here, but as it happens our old VW is still owned by the mechanic who bought it 6 years ago and he will rent it back to us at a not-bad price! I've spent house on line already shopping possible makes / models, and all we have to do is figure out when and how we can get to the city to shop!

Two things in our favor -- (1) we were within days of buying new tires, and (2) there is a Car Expo in a couple of weeks in Guad with all makes and models represented, so we will be finding a way to go there for sure. Not having had any idea of changing cars, we pay no attention so are really in a fog about this.

You can probably imagine I'm still not functioning on all burners, but thought you might get a kick out of this latest "Mexican experience".              

Next step will be to take original plus four copies of car invoice, this year's tenencia payment, and my I.D. to the FIRST office of the P de J in Guad, in order to get a "copia certificada". That's the easy part. The hard part is I can ONLY go between 2 - 4:30 (but you have to get there early because they give out numbered tickets) and I have to do a really good job of pleading with them to give me this certificate the same day (usually not done) because I live outside of the city and it will be so hard for me to return, or else there will be a return trip (and another "take a number"....). And of course that office is nowhere near anywhere that a person would want to include in their plan for the day.

Then more originals plus the certificate in hand, I go to Hacienda in Chapala where they do a "baja de placas" to remove us from any liability to do with misuse of the plates. What about prior?? Insurance co. says because the theft is in the P de J computer, we will be alright. (Is that like "Trust Me"?)

After that, I suppose (??) after the mandatory 30 days to search for the car has expired, I go to the insurance agent with original factura and five years of original tenencia payments, and all the keys we have to the car. (Good thing I've learned to squirrel stuff away!) Then the insurance company starts to process the claim, and at some distant time in the future we get a small amount of dinero .......

Meanwhile it's really fun car shopping when (1) you are busy out here nearly all day every day,  (2) you have no way to get to the car lots, and (3) you have no idea what you want to buy / can afford! Spending a lot of time on line, plus driving around in places like Walmart checking out car models in the parking lot! haha

¡Suerte, B!
Posted with her permission.


  1. wow, makes our decision to keep our old ratty toyota pick up truck to take there when we move.

  2. I'm curious as to whether the car was locked; what year was it; and if anyone was questioned that might have been in the area of the theft in that it was in daylight?

    Time to dig out the CLUB I think - now where did I put that thing...?

  3. This is how it is in Mexico: a drawn-out absurdity. Good luck!

  4. C y K: YES. Bring an old but reliable workhorse type car to MX. I brought an old Toyota 4Runner and have not had any dents or scrapes fixed on purpose.

    Calypso: Good questions! The car was locked but not clubbed. Broad daylight. Don't know about questioning people. . . She did say the car was the same type favored by taxis here and the cops said most frequently stolen car. She mentioned she like the car and they might buy another one and the cops were stunned. I use my club religiously, you should too.

    Vadose: Hnnnnnyup.

  5. we use our club in Mexico and parts of Phoenix.

  6. Yikes and I just wrote a post about how Im moving to Guadalajara. Glad we have a piece of junk truck no one will want. lol