With recent Mexico kidnappings, Police Chief Ron Bridge urges students to be safe on spring break

Breaking news about the Americans recently kidnapped in Mexico. With traveling during spring break coming up it’s important to be safe. The Brynlee Wade | Sun News Daily

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As Utah Tech University students head into spring break, many are planning to travel, but with recent kidnappings in Mexico, authorities are warning travelers to exercise caution. 

In an ongoing investigation of the kidnappings that took place March 3 in the northern Mexico border city of Matamoros, two of four United States citizens kidnapped were found dead while two others were taken to a hospital in Texas for treatment and observation.

During a state department news briefing given March 7, spokesperson Ned Price said: “The investigation is in its earliest days. I understand we may have more to share from the FBI at the appropriate time.” 

Although many questions remain unanswered about the kidnappings, what we do know is this is not the first time something like this has occurred in Mexico. In fact, there are over 100,000 missing persons cases in that country, and although the recent U.S. citizens kidnappings produced findings in just a couple of days, other cases have remained untouched for years.

Although kidnappings and other crimes can occur anywhere, the U.S. Department of State issued a Mexico travel advisory Oct. 5, 2022, urging citizens to travel in caution.

“Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico,” the advisory said. “U.S. citizens are advised to adhere to restrictions on U.S. government employee travel.” 

Although many students have already made plans for traveling, Ron Bridge, the interim chief of police at Utah Tech, said there are many things students can do to ensure their safety when traveling, especially over spring break.

“My advice would be to travel in groups and never travel alone,” Bridge said. “Also make sure that people know where you’re going, even if you are in a group.”

Ashlee Bueler, a sophomore management major from Camp Verde, Arizona, said she will be traveling to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico with her family over the break. 

“We have a buddy system we use on all of our vacations where everyone has a buddy and has to stick with their buddy the entire trip,” Bueler said. “The system helps us keep track of every single person on the trip, and we are so much safer in a group than by ourselves.”

Bueler also said her and her family ensures their safety by never walking alone at night and being considerate of the cars they take to Mexico, so they can avoid being a target for potential theft. 

“At any time, you can become the victim of a crime,” Bridge said. “When you’re traveling and you get to your destination, make sure you remove all of the items from your vehicle, so people don’t break into your car just to take your purse or your personal items that happened to be left in there.”

When traveling, Bridge said having situational awareness allows individuals to stay safe and pay attention to their surroundings. 

“Make sure your situational awareness is heightened,” Bridge said. “Be aware of what’s around you, notice who’s following you, notice who’s in front of you and notice who’s watching you.” 

Once students cross the border to another country, they are going into a foreign nation and must abide by the specific rules and regulations of that country. Although the rules may be different, the ways they can stay safe are not. 

“Spring break is a time where students go and have fun,” Bridge said. “I encourage them to take the time off from school, and go and have fun, but do it responsibly and safely.”