Spring breakers warned to be cautious

February 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The State Department is warning college students traveling to Mexico for spring break to be very careful. The escalating violence there is putting tourists in danger. One Bay Area man never made it back from his vacation.

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"My Tim. [The robber] took the one thing that could not be replaced, and I think the one thing he got away with was a few bucks and cell phone," says Susan Connor, the wife of a murder victim.

Two weeks ago Susan Connor's husband, Tim, was killed while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta -- the apparent victim of a robbery inside their condo.

The U.S. State Department has been aware the violence in Mexico has increased, especially along the border. There have been fire fights between the drug cartels and Mexican police. And now that U.S. students are headed south for spring break, the department wants them to take commonsense precautions.

Chase Partridge is a student at San Francisco State University. His grandmother lives in Mexico.

"I've been going there for 10 years every single year twice a year, it's nothing new to me, but I feel safe there," says Partridge.

"I was worried in the start, but I know a couple of friends have been down there without any problems, so I'll take their advice and go and have fun," says Josh Erwin, a college student.

Despite all the reports of violence, the number of tourists visiting Mexico increased in 2008. The Mexican government says by six percent.

Mexico's Consul General in San Francisco says students should always be cautious.

"As any other country as you travel to any region of the world, you need to be cautious and take some kind of precautions and don't take any risks, unnecessary risks," says Carlos Felix, Mexico's Consul General.

But Susan Connor hopes the State Department's alert will deter students from going to Mexico.

"They need to know. They probably need to either chose another destination or at least be more careful. I don't know. I don't blame the Mexican people at all," says Connor.

Tim Conner was 47.

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