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Ajijic

So You Think Expats Are Safe?

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There are really two types of crime, petty property crime and an occasional purse snatching, and the extreme violent type. The violent crimes are almost exclusively limited to narcos and police and government officials. They are scary to hear about, but the normal resident, whether Mexican or expat rarely encounters those incidents. It's true that if you drive a fancy SUV that the narcos covet, you might be a target of a carjacking, but that's not generally the case.

The petty crime of robbery and home break ins are no worse than those in a typical community in Canada or the US. If you take reasonable precautions like locking doors when you leave and having a presence in your home if you are away for an extended time, you will likely not encounter this type of crime either.

The Lake Chapala/Ajijic area is a wonderful place to live, but it isn't utopia. Have reasonable expectations and take reasonable precautions and you should feel safe and comfortable here. I hope you'll come and check us out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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Geesh Howard every day another child dies, at least every hour an innocent law enforcement person is killed. You say no different than in Canada or US. Let me tell you I have lived in both countries and I have yet to see razor wire and cut glass and 10 foot walls around anything but a prison NOB and certainly not in Victoria, BC. You mean the loss of these children and police and soldiers does not count? You think the kidnappings, extortion and protection money paid by tens of thousands of little shop and market owners is OK and they are not in fear? You think the pirating that is estimated to be $80 BILLION while exceeding oil and illegal drug revenue does not affect every facet of life? You think the many innocents shot, decapitated, dismembered in drug rehab centers are simply guilty people deserving to die? Meanwhile the government lacks funds for basic education, IMSS is almost broke and the social security pension plan is broke. Infrastructure is in a huge state of disrepair and cities like Guadalajara and San Miguel only treat 3% of their sewage while much needed funds are used to fight the criminals.

The lack of tourism due to the criminal activity affects millions of jobs. Every facet of life is affect directly or indirectly. It is far more than petty crime. No one in Mexico is unaffected ... no one!

In cities like Monterrey hundreds of private cars, tractor trailers and buses have been used to block roads. FYI these vehicles were not drivable after these events and someone ultimately pays to repair or replace them.

Soon, no one who is ethical will join law enforcement as it is like putting a bulls eye on ones back. Meanwhile the next elections are being determined by the criminals who are instilling fear preventing only "their" candidates from running for office.

Even in 6 months the deterioration has been huge. Heaven forbid this slide continues at this rate as killings now exceed Iraq so what does that leave? I am VERY saddened for the majority of Mexicans whose future is not good. We can move on but they are trapped. FYI Costa Rica's murder rate is very similar to the US albeit both are much higher than Canada's.

I live here because my partner and her young daughter are Mexican! But as you can see several are looking at options based on postings about Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and a poll indicated crime was a big factor in those who have decided to leave or are considering it. If this weather existed NOB 90% I believe would be gone.

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Geesh Howard every day another child dies, at least every hour an innocent law enforcement person is killed. You say no different than in Canada or US. Let me tell you I have lived in both countries and I have yet to see razor wire and cut glass and 10 foot walls around anything but a prison NOB and certainly not in Victoria, BC. You mean the loss of these children and police and soldiers does not count? You think the kidnappings, extortion and protection money paid by tens of thousands of little shop and market owners is OK and they are not in fear? You think the pirating that is estimated to be $80 BILLION while exceeding oil and illegal drug revenue does not affect every facet of life? You think the many innocents shot, decapitated, dismembered in drug rehab centers are simply guilty people deserving to die? Meanwhile the government lacks funds for basic education, IMSS is almost broke and the social security pension plan is broke. Infrastructure is in a huge state of disrepair and cities like Guadalajara and San Miguel only treat 3% of their sewage while much needed funds are used to fight the criminals.

The lack of tourism due to the criminal activity affects millions of jobs. Every facet of life is affect directly or indirectly. It is far more than petty crime. No one in Mexico is unaffected ... no one!

Then why do you continue to live here, or do you?

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I'm from Victoria, B.C. too. Lived in Mexico for five years. Moving back to B.C. because of the dangers of driving back & forth & living behind walls, razor wire, etc., being intimidated/threatened by people in the community. No peace of mind. Not worth it. The cost of living isn't as cheap as people think either.

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Don't think that moving to Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica....etc etc is going to isolate any one from crime. The world is in turmoil and no place is spare. A friend (canadian) has been twice in Ecuador and both times had incidents. The last time, last month, he got out off the taxi in front of the hotel and the driver took off before he had a chance to take his things out. A friend and his 2 daughters went to Europe last summer. One time robed in Rome and another in France, all in the same trip. The USA is no better. We may not have as many kidnappins or sudden attacks by drug cartels, but according to FBI statistics, as today, there are around 225 serial killers walking the streets of our country. Thousands of families in the USA are still looking for love ones desappeared without a trace and a bunch more with no relatives to report their desappearance; like the homeless.iss Heaven knows how many remote dumping grounds are hidden in the woods, deserts, mountains, ravines of the good old USA. Lets not be foolish and think that this don't happen in our neighborhood. Race,religious, domestic violence,has risen drastically in the USA. The killing is the same but the methods and motives may be different. Some of us only see mirrors in front of us, but look behind and what you'll see is quite different. I am a proud american,but not a blind one.

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Don't think that moving to Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica....etc etc is going to isolate any one from crime. The world is in turmoil and no place is spare. A friend (canadian) has been twice in Ecuador and both times had incidents. The last time, last month, he got out off the taxi in front of the hotel and the driver took off before he had a chance to take his things out. A friend and his 2 daughters went to Europe last summer. One time robed in Rome and another in France, all in the same trip. The USA is no better. We may not have as many kidnappins or sudden attacks by drug cartels, but according to FBI statistics, as today, there are around 225 serial killers walking the streets of our country. Thousands of families in the USA are still looking for love ones desappeared without a trace and a bunch more with no relatives to report their desappearance; like the homeless.iss Heaven knows how many remote dumping grounds are hidden in the woods, deserts, mountains, ravines of the good old USA. Lets not be foolish and think that this don't happen in our neighborhood. Race,religious, domestic violence,has risen drastically in the USA. The killing is the same but the methods and motives may be different. Some of us only see mirrors in front of us, but look behind and what you'll see is quite different. I am a proud american,but not a blind one.

Alarmist hysteria. According to official FBI figures the murder rate and other violent crime has been dropping for years in the U. S. and is now the lowest since reliable records have been kept.

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I'm from Victoria, B.C. too. Lived in Mexico for five years. Moving back to B.C. because of the dangers of driving back & forth & living behind walls, razor wire, etc., being intimidated/threatened by people in the community. No peace of mind. Not worth it. The cost of living isn't as cheap as people think either.

DeepCanyon: Your experience is EXACTLY what I am looking for. You know the culture I live in and the pros and cons of living in both Mexico and Canada. Where in Mexico do you live? Is it only the crime rate (petty or violent) that is motivating your move?

When you say "living behind walls, razor wire, etc.," this is a far cry from simply locking your doors and not leaving a home vacant for too long. I am sure anyone reading this can appreciate why it is hard to get a true reading of how crime impacts daily living in Mexico when compared to a place like Victoria, BC, Canada. Yes it is true that every location NOB has a crime rate high enough to require some precautions. The question is degree. Petty crime can include thieves breaking into a home at night looking for jewlery while the owners are asleep (I have heard of this scary event happening around Lakeside but don't know how common it is) or someone stealing a bicycle parked outside a home (a typical crime here). The former leaves you feeling violated, the latter just annoyed. The question is the frequency of such crimes and to what length you have to put up barriers to stop them. This is the information I am looking for.

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Victorian have you considered the coast and especially Barra de Navidad / Melaque? The two towns with a combined population of say 30,000 are about 2 km apart and less than an hour north of Manzanillo. Many expats and appears more than half from Canada and large number from BC. Yes it gets hot is summer but some like that and always a breeze. Follow the temps for awhile. There as I have noted before no glass or razor wire on high walls and say Sea-Doo's on trailers outside on street for days at a time. Some homes have a low decorative wall and none of the security seen in San Miguel where I now live or Ajijic where I lived for a year. My friends from Ontario spent 4 months there this winter and will be returning this winter after spending 6 in Ajijic. PM if any questions about anything. John PS yes I am Canadian :D

Americans will alway have a different view point as their murder rate is .042 per 1000 and Canada's is .015 per 1000. They are more use to guns and murders etc. Mexico FYI is .13 almost 10 times higher than Canada's. Most other crimes can not be compared to Mexico as the reporting is minimal and about 95% never see a justice system.

For those who report they have no issues in Mexico ask if they have bars on windows, high walls, razor wire or broken glass, sleep with windows closed and locked, etc. How many police die in Canada while on duty? I love Mexico but not in denial about the risks and here because partner is Mexican.

People drive in Iraq every day with no repercussions but would you consider a vacation there? There are more murders in Mexico than Iraq!

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Victorian have you considered the coast and especially Barra de Navidad / Melaque? The two towns with a combined population of say 30,000 are about 2 km apart and less than an hour north of Manzanillo. Many expats and appears more than half from Canada and large number from BC. Yes it gets hot is summer but some like that and always a breeze. Follow the temps for awhile. There as I have noted before no glass or razor wire on high walls and say Sea-Doo's on trailers outside on street for days at a time. Some homes have a low decorative wall and none of the security seen in San Miguel where I now live or Ajijic where I lived for a year. My friends from Ontario spent 4 months there this winter and will be returning this winter after spending 6 in Ajijic. PM if any questions about anything. John PS yes I am Canadian :D

Thanks Ajijic. I really appreciate your offer. I will look at Barra de Navidad / Melaque. Do you have much of a concern that violence elsewhere will spread to Barra de Navidad / Melaque?

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Victorian,

I just have to ask: Where is it that all of this violence that you refer to is actually impacting expat retirees living in Mexico? I don't mean just the concern about the news reports of what the cartels, politicians, military and police are doing to each other; but real physical impact upon expats????

We're living here just as we have for almost ten years and still travel; having just driven some several hundred mile trips on rather remote roads, visiting everything from tiny villages, small towns and large cities. Didn't see a single armed person, rotting corpse or detached body part. Am I missing something? Instead, we enjoyed the countryside, the coast, the people, meals in unfamiliar restaurants and always slept peacefully at night. The Mexico we experience is very different from the one that you may experience in your imagination. That puzzles me. I would be more concerned about the kind of random crime, road rage and texting drivers in the USA!

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Victorian,

I just have to ask: Where is it that all of this violence that you refer to is actually impacting expat retirees living in Mexico? I don't mean just the concern about the news reports of what the cartels, politicians, military and police are doing to each other; but real physical impact upon expats????

We're living here just as we have for almost ten years and still travel; having just driven some several hundred mile trips on rather remote roads, visiting everything from tiny villages, small towns and large cities. Didn't see a single armed person, rotting corpse or detached body part. Am I missing something? Instead, we enjoyed the countryside, the coast, the people, meals in unfamiliar restaurants and always slept peacefully at night. The Mexico we experience is very different from the one that you may experience in your imagination. That puzzles me. I would be more concerned about the kind of random crime, road rage and texting drivers in the USA!

Luckily for you you missed this gun battle on the highway last night not too many miles from Ajijic. A police car attacked on the highway, one assailant killed and the police are chasing about 60 subjects in ten vehicles back into Michoacán. Can you imagine the news coverage an incident like this would receive in the U. S. or Canada? Here it gets passing notice in the Guadalajara paper and is not even reported in the smaller papers in the area. Far from sensationalizing violence in Mexico, the media massively under-reports it, with an informational blackout in effect over whole sections of the country.

http://www.informador.com.mx/jalisco/2010/212504/6/balacera-en-carretera-a-mazamitla-deja-una-persona-muerta.htm

Shootout on highway to Mazamitla leaves one person dead

State forensic authorities seize dozens of 7.62 and .223 cartridge casings

* About 60 armed subjects took part in the confrontation

* No arrests reported

During the night municipal police supported by the army confronted an armed band in the vicinity of Michoacán

MAZAMITLA, JALISCO (June 24/2010).- A shootout between agents of the Jalisco Investigative Police (PGJEJ) and an armed hit squad on the Valle de Juárez-Mazamitla highway on the Michoacán border left one gunman dead.

Juan Carlos Santillán Barajas, assistant chief of the Mazamitla Police, the agency that came to the aid of the investigators, reported that the shootout occurred minutes before midnight at Kilometer 4+300 of that route.

"Apparently they met head-on and the armed subjects in a white Suburban initiated the attack, which was repelled by the agents," he stated.

During the shootout, the driver lost control of the vehicle and the Suburban wound up off the road.

In the interior was found the body of a still-unidentified man with bullet wounds.

Experts from the Jalisco Institute of Forensic Science (IJCF) gathered from the highway dozens of 7.62 by 39mm cartridge casings for AK47 weapons--the so-called "cuernos de chivo"--and .223 caliber casings for the AR15 assault rifle.

After the shooting the investigative, state and municipal police, backed by Mexican Army troops and the Federal Police, sought about 60 armed subjects who escaped in some ten pickups by back roads into the state of Michoacán.

This morning authorities reported no arrests.

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Actually, quite a few miles from Ajijic, unless you go by boat. No gringos were involved. The shootings 35 miles from where I lived NOB didn't make be feel "unsafe." These don't either. Don't get me wrong, I don't like that it's happening, but I don't feel "unsafe" because of it. The "war on drugs" in Mexico is real and being fought with bullets not rhetoric like in the USA.

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DeepCanyon: Your experience is EXACTLY what I am looking for. You know the culture I live in and the pros and cons of living in both Mexico and Canada. Where in Mexico do you live? Is it only the crime rate (petty or violent) that is motivating your move?

When you say "living behind walls, razor wire, etc.," this is a far cry from simply locking your doors and not leaving a home vacant for too long. I am sure anyone reading this can appreciate why it is hard to get a true reading of how crime impacts daily living in Mexico when compared to a place like Victoria, BC, Canada. Yes it is true that every location NOB has a crime rate high enough to require some precautions. The question is degree. Petty crime can include thieves breaking into a home at night looking for jewlery while the owners are asleep (I have heard of this scary event happening around Lakeside but don't know how common it is) or someone stealing a bicycle parked outside a home (a typical crime here). The former leaves you feeling violated, the latter just annoyed. The question is the frequency of such crimes and to what length you have to put up barriers to stop them. This is the information I am looking for.

I live in Ajijic village on a street with lots of Mexican neighbors. I don't have any razor wire or even conventional barbed wire. We did have a minor break-in when our house was occupied by a house sitter a couple of years ago, but there were extenuating circumstances. Other than that, we have felt completely comfortable living here. Are we concerned about all of the violent crimes around the country? Of course, but it doesn't affect us on a day to day basis and life goes on.

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Left US 16 yrs ago. Have bars on my windows, but feel very safe when it is all locked up. Know all my neighbors and they know me. I live on the coast, and there are about 2-3 months of the year it is very humid here. I do love the beauty of the jungle and can accept heat, most of the time. Some people are just beach people!

Health care is so inexpensive I pay as I go. Car insurance is low and body work is cheap. You will like Mexico if you learn the language. Easy to access your money from an ATM without a bank fee if you go to the right bank. All kinds of ways to make phone calls very cheap if you have a computer. You will need to learn patience, where things happen slow. The word manaña does not always mean tomarrow. It does mean not now.

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Here it gets passing notice in the Guadalajara paper and is not even reported in the smaller papers in the area.

"Passing notice"? I stopped at an Oxxo on the way into Guadalajara in the morning, and there were two young dudes there buying all five of the available Mexican newspapers, because there were front-page stories of the incident on every one. A glance at one showed the body being stuffed into a garbage bag by police.

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Victorian,

I just have to ask: Where is it that all of this violence that you refer to is actually impacting expat retirees living in Mexico? I don't mean just the concern about the news reports of what the cartels, politicians, military and police are doing to each other; but real physical impact upon expats????

We're living here just as we have for almost ten years and still travel; having just driven some several hundred mile trips on rather remote roads, visiting everything from tiny villages, small towns and large cities. Didn't see a single armed person, rotting corpse or detached body part. Am I missing something? Instead, we enjoyed the countryside, the coast, the people, meals in unfamiliar restaurants and always slept peacefully at night. The Mexico we experience is very different from the one that you may experience in your imagination. That puzzles me. I would be more concerned about the kind of random crime, road rage and texting drivers in the USA!

RVGring: It's not clear from your statement: "Where is it that all of this violence that you refer to is actually impacting expat retirees living in Mexico?" is accusing me of saying this or simply asking me a question. I don't see excessive violent crime as affecting most expats that live away from the border, and haven't said that. I sense that violent crime in the Lakeside area is not common. What I'm not so sure on is the level of property theft, how much you have to take precautions, and what a psychological affect it has on residents. Again, there are many conflicting posts on this topic.

I had understood that there was an increase in crime in the Lakeside area since the ressession began. Do I have that wrong?

Re-read the post by DeepCanyon. They say: "Moving back to B.C. because of the dangers of driving back & forth & living behind walls, razor wire, etc., being intimidated/threatened by people in the community. No peace of mind. Not worth it. The cost of living isn't as cheap as people think either." That doesn't sound like a vote of confidence. I am hoping they provide some more detail (such as where they live) so I can balance against posts such as yours. I imagine everyone agrees that crossing the border is somewhat dangerous. Depending on how frequently you do this will influence your opinion.

You may find this amusing, but I was doing some research on Mexico this evening and went to this site; http://www.mexico-insights.com/judysblog/category/Flora-Fauna-Climate-Nature.aspx This site makes a case for Mexico being a great place to live. Part way down the page is a weather link. It is: http://chapalaweather.net/ Try it and see what you get (assuming it hasn't been fixed). It is giving me a bright red screen with the text: "FOR THOSE OF YOU EXPECTING TO SEE THE WEATHER, SURPRISE. THANK YOU CFE. POWER WENT OFF AT 2:45AM, NOT BACK ON UNTIL 12:20PM. ALL FILES AND SOFTWARE FOR THE WEATHER STATION APPEAR TO BE SCRAMBLED/NON-FUNTIONAL ETC. SO, AGAIN, THANK YOU CFE FOR ALLOWING ME TO PAY OVER 3 TIMES THE RATE I PAID NOB AND FOR WHAT? I'VE INVESTED HUNDREDS OF $$$ IN REGULATORS AND UPS ONLY TO PAY HUNDREDS OF $$$$ IN REPAIRS FOR WHAT THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO CORRECT FROM YOU POWER LINES!

Not exactly a glowing endorsement for internet service in Mexico. I found it funny, in a sad sort of way (for the web site owner).

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It was a question.

We've never had a break-in and our home is without glass, wire or bars. We live quite normally.

If you knew the guy who runs the weather station, how much electricity he uses (DAC rate!!) and where he's living, you would see the humor in his plight.

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It was a question.

We've never had a break-in and our home is without glass, wire or bars. We live quite normally.

If you knew the guy who runs the weather station, how much electricity he uses (DAC rate!!) and where he's living, you would see the humor in his plight.

It sounds like crime has not been an issue for you. That is an endorsement. I hope it is the norm. Your home is without glass? You mean you don't have glass windows?

I feel bad for the fellow that keeps the weather site. He is providing a free service to others, and is being thwarted.

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The weather site seems to be back up and running, so the problem couldn't have been too serious, after all. Glad it is OK.

Of course we have glass, but not broken shards; about 20 doors and several windows. Most face various interior patios, courtyards and a veranda; as is rather typical in homes here in town, where one house abuts another and your yards and other outdoor spaces are inside the walled property, providing privacy, light, ventilation and also security from the street's noise, dust and traffic. Free standing homes are found more frequently in developments and may not have walls. Those often do have bars on the windows, just as do homes in many US cities, to discourage opportunistic scoundrels seeking your most recent electronics. Here, our garages are also behind the walls and I've never found my car without its battery, as was twice the case in my own driveway in the USA.

Please don't worry. Life is pretty much the same everywhere in the world; just differing in the details. Frankly, I find Mexico more comfortable than many other places; the USA included. It is the 'unfamiliarity' that bothers most folks; not the reality. It is natural to suspect, or even fear the 'unknown', but that may cause you to live a very dull life of false security.

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It sounds like crime has not been an issue for you. That is an endorsement. I hope it is the norm. Your home is without glass? You mean you don't have glass windows?

I feel bad for the fellow that keeps the weather site. He is providing a free service to others, and is being thwarted.

RVGRINGO was referring to broken shards of glass cemented into the top of walls to discourage anyone wanting to climb over.

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The security measures that people here employ stem, first of all, from the 10 year period of civil war commonly known as "El Revolution." Walls, bars, and such things as glass shards are commom all over Mexico. In that regard there's nothing unique about Lakeside. Futher, Mexico is not alone with these types of security measures for one's dwelling: In Taiwan and China it's common to see bars on windows many stories above street level, windows that NO ONE could ever get to. Go figure. It's the local custom and nothing more. Petty theft is common here, violent crime is not. Burglary not robbery is more common. When I read that last weekend 52 people were shot in Chicago and 8 died it makes me wonder which country is safer. I can tell you for sure that 52 people were NOT shot in Guadalajara. I think Mexico is much safer. The "war on drugs" gets a lot of press, especially in the USA where that "war" is fought with nothing but rhetoric. Here it's fought with guns. Pres. Calderone is serious about going after the cartels. Are the NOB politicos that serious? I think not. Just my opinion.

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RVGRINGO was referring to broken shards of glass cemented into the top of walls to discourage anyone wanting to climb over.

Thank you for the explanation. I have seen buidings on the coast which were open to outside. It didn't make sense in the Lakeside area though.

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Lakeside is a safe area relatively speaking as there isn't that much violence locally where a gringo would be caught in the crossfire. This area isn't for rich folks either as the wealthy usually don't like to live a few blocks from the have nots and this is the rub here lake side. You won't get a gun to your back or murdered here but some son of clueless parents may break into your car or maybe the dad will break into your home at night.

It is hard for the police to prevent the crimes here for a number of reasons, like there aren't that many of them, the criminals could be family or friends or people they fear, they aren't paid enough to risk their lives and some have parents who think their kids that are out at all hours of the night drunk and on drugs can do no wrong so they keep bailing them out.

Also the fact that if you profiled, you'd be harassing most of the local youths as many fit the delinquent profile. It would be like trying to profile a terrorist in the middle east, many look the part.

Certain areas it is easier to tell who belongs and doesn't but if your area is an area of transit where the people with that look cross to go to another area then really there is nothing that can be done.

Who do we call? The Equalizer? The A Team??

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Certainly do. Robbed four times NOB, in over a decade here, robbed 0 times. Atlas made a great point. 60 shootings in Chicago last weekend.

http://hiphopwired.com/2010/06/23/chicago-mayor-reinforces-handgun-ban/

R.V. Gringo, I'm with you 100% on this issue.

In Europe most people have bars, or roll down shades at least on their shops. Only NOB do people leave themselves open to home invasions. Here we're more cautious, and therefore provide the would be thieves with a few obstacles. Result, they'll move smartly along to easier pickings. I'm all for ornamental bars on ground floor windows. They can look great and save you a whole lot of hassles. Perimeter walls, are totally covered in a heavy planting of Bougainvillia . Looks gorgeous all year round and thieves don't like it.

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