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Police say thieves using codes to identify easy prey homes

Mexico City, D.F. — As summer draws to a near and low season sets in for many tourist regions, police are honing in on criminals, who they say, mark establishments for criminal activity.

Criminals throughout Mexico are often organized and through symbols, use markings to identify homes that are easy to steal from. Police say that these criminals leave codes or marks outside the houses that to them, make up a whole series of sentences that facilitate the work of the assailants.

Alejandro Hernández, former Federal Commander, explains that the marks look like a stain on the environment when in fact, it’s graffiti. To criminals, they mean the viability thieves can face, for example, a family that has gone on vacation.

He says that at present, criminals use codes to select their victims. The codes look like any marking in that they are there and it is common to find them. They are triangles, stripes or circles that are often confused with graffiti, but they have a purpose. Criminals leave their markings under entrance mats, behind plants, on a gate, mailbox or wall. A place that is hidden but visible.

Alejandro Hernández explained, “These marks, as they are commonly referred to, are markings not of Mexican origin. They come from the Colombian ratero whose specialty is to mark a place and avoid being caught. This specialized marking will allow fellow criminals to then scope out the house to see the type of people inside, if there are dogs, single adult woman or an entire family and if there is surveillance or an alarm on the home.”

He said that walking the streets “we find a code, possibly the most used by criminals. At first sight it seems that they drew a boat, but in fact it indicates that a woman lives alone, easy prey for the delinquents.”

Mr. Hernández also recommends that people be vigilant about other signs commonly used by thieves to check whether a house is vacant or not. Would-be thieves will often leave a bottle at the entrance of the home, scratch the door or add tape, or leave advertising all in order to see how long it takes occupants to remove his mark.