January 19, 2014 - 12:58 PM
KAMLOOPS FAMILY ROBBED BY BANDITS
KAMLOOPS - A simple drive along a popular holiday motorcyle route during a family Christmas trip ended in an armed robbery on a Mexico highway for one Kamloops family.
Grant and Rosemarie Griffin drove down to Phoenix with the three family motorcycles on a trailer. Son Matthew flew down after shutting down the family shop, Versatile Upholstery Inc., for a two-week break. They all drove their bikes into Mexico.
“I love Mexico,” Rosemarie says, “We've been many times before, doing the all inclusives though.”
They crossed into Mexico on Dec. 22 and a week later they were driving in the state of Chihuahua about 60 kilometres west of San Juanito on 'great riding roads in a popular biking area' when they came across a roadblock.
Their family holiday quickly turned into a horror story as four heavily armed bandits pulled them over, searched their bags and rummaged through their belongings, stealing much of it before being scared off by another vehicle. The Griffins weren't hurt.
Rosemarie says Mexicans, dressed in camouflage, spoke no English and used hand signals to communicate. One of the bandits would constantly pat his assault rifle in an intimidating way.
At one point they told Rosemarie to leave but she refused to leave her husband and son alone.
“Please senor, no, no!” she begged.
They let her stay and she then watched the armed men pat down her 'boys' but they didn't touch her.
“All I remember was praying to God,” she says. “Please let us get out of here safely. Just let us leave.”
The theives emptied the cash from her husband's wallet and took his motorcycle.
Their son Matthew had all his belongings stolen, except his motorcycle and the GoPro camera attached to it. They didn't take Rosemarie's either. They were lucky to keep two bikes, Rosemarie says, because at one point the theives seemed to indicate they wanted all three.
The Griffins were ordered by the thieves to travel the 60 km back to San Juanito instead of continuing on the last few miles to their destination. They rushed back and began a search for police but the language barrier was a problem.
“At one point I was yelling on the street 'does anybody speak English',” she says. “Finally one woman answered 'yes' and indicated she spoke a little.”
They found a police station, tucked away and unmarked. With the help of a curious young boy who was able to translate a little, they were able to tell their story.
“The bandits were known,” Rosemarie says, “They (the police) got excited when we indicated we had pictures on the GoPro, they found a computer we could view them on and they made copies.”
The small video camera had been set to take photos every 30 seconds (see slideshow below).
The family spent the next couple days filling out paperwork and recounting their tale. They got home just over a week ago. Since then, they've heard from their interpreter who told them the bandits had been caught and are in jail.
She notes the experience will live in their memories for the rest of their lives and warns others in the same situation to stay calm.
“Be aware. Be cool about it,” Rosemarie warns. “Don't mouth off. Don't be a jerk.”
As for Mexico she says they still love it and plan on returning.
“It's an easy, quick holiday,” she says, “I don't know if or when we'll do the roads there again. The back roads, back country, I can't see that.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014