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Open Season on Cops?

January 31st, 2009

crfp11In the United States, shooting,  assaulting and of course killing a police officer is a huge deal.  The police simply do not rest until the perpetrator has been caught, and they are non too gentle in the process. This is as it should be because when something like that happens, it is not simply an assault on that officer, it is an assault on all police officers and more important, it is an assault on society.

Whether or not you are a supporter of the police, the one unassailable fact is that they represent just about the only line between you and a very nasty group of people who pay little attention to the law.  A complete lack of respect for law enforcement is a harbinger of anarchy.

When I arrived in Costa Rica, I rarely read or heard about violent attacks of any kind. There were some home invasions, but never if the home was occupied. Street crime was limited to pickpockets or street punks (chapulines) seldom armed with anything other than a knife and tough talk. Few or no gangs. Typical city crime.  Outside the cities, the crime rate was negligible.

Crime has changed here in Costa Rica. Now the street punks have guns just like in the USA. Assaults are more common. Home invasions occur whether the home is occupied or not. Costa Rica is reacting, hiring more police and if anything, I seem to have noticed a drop or at least a leveling off crimes here.

What has me troubled, though, is the ever increasing attacks on the police themselves… and worse, how the bad guys are seemingly getting away with it.  Just three days ago, a young (23 I think) police officer was shotgunned while making a check of a home. He survived… losing a lung. Another officer is in the same hospital after having been shot in the face.

I do not know any police officers here nor any agents of the OIJ, so I have no access to the hot skinny, but I am concerned that there is no news followup of the progress and activities and what they are doing to catch (avenge!) these shootings.  This could be just crummy reporting or perhaps the culture is different and the harming of a police officer simply is not a priority. I am hoping for the former!

My point is, the police and the government simply must make crimes against law enforcement a priority… even above crime to the populace. If they are not doing this, I believe the results will be disastrous for Costa Rica.

17 Responses to “Open Season on Cops?”

  1. Ken on January 31, 2009 3:00 pm

    Home intrusion (with occupants) has been happening at least for the last 10 years but not with the regularity of today. As most of us know, the ID,crimanl descriptions, auto etc called into police, (no police will go to your scene) was never addressed because no one was hurt or killed. THAT has to change but seemingly has not. One young man (medical student) was murdered in his home in November.
    Last week in the US embassy, there were no less than 3 people requesting passports for the short time I was there. Of the 3, there were at least 2, I believe that had theirs stolen. I overheard one stately gentleman say “it was a setup”..so just watch yourself, read this blog,copy your passport and be careful because much has changed in the 6 years.

  2. Ranger Bob on February 1, 2009 10:55 am

    Potrero and Flamingo burglary ring:
    When I arrived in Potrero last July I was warned about a burglary wave in the area. Sees like 2 to 3 a night was the norm for the weekends. They would enter a home at night while the residents were asleep and steal lap tops, phones, car keys and passports. They would then steal the car most of the time. This was going on for several weeks and thousands of dollars of stuff was taken. When one of my friends actually caught a burgler red handed walking on the beach with a flat screen tv and other stuff to his amazement the police were there within a couple minutes. They would not allow us to take his pictures so we could alert people to who he is. Seems suspicious to me. Maybe they brought him there?? !! Not only that but the same robber was back in the area at 10 am the next day and took an elderly man’s wife hostage in their home. When the elderly man arrived he was stabbed repeatedly but did survive. Now I hear they will keep this robber for 90 days. He should be hung. The robberies and burglaries have stopped since he has been put away. Why let him go if he was caught the day before red handed by the police? Another case a resident had his car taken and when he called to report it missing the police called back in 15 minutes and had found it in Liberia, Costa Rica. Did the thieves park it at the police station? Really now, could the police actually find a stolen car in 15 minutes? Even if it had Lojack in the US that in impossible. If you want tourists to come they must feel safe. Start a chain gang like the Sheriff on Maricopa County in Az. Joe Arpio has. Put these bastards out in the sun for 12 to 16 hours a day and teach them how to work. I week of that and they will probably go back to where they came from. We need to get tough. Make them pay. The Costa Rica mentality seems to be “the Americans can afford to be robbed” If the country does not punish them I am sure there are enough trained American retired soldiers to do it. Airborne Rangers, Navy Seals, Special Forces unite to protect ourselves! I am ready to get a group together and patrol our streets at night. NO PRISONERS is the rule. Want to join? See you at the El Castillo on any Fri or Sat night.

  3. Bob Gieser on February 1, 2009 12:36 pm

    I am a retired law enforcement officer from California, who has been visiting Costa Rica for 18 years. The first time I came was 1n 1991 to go to language school so I could communicate more fully with my detainees back home at work. Crime was no-where like it is now, but then drugs and immigration enforcement was different as well.

    I soon made friends with many from the OIJ and have watched the crime rate increase. The enormous influx of drugs, mainly cocaine from Colombia, is evidenced by the record seizures of late, this past year being record quantities.

    I will dare say that the system of juris prudence in Costa Rica is quite different than that of many countries. I am not here to criticize their system or lack thereof, just to comment on it.

    Having worked in drug law enforcement for most of the 30 some odd year career, there needs to be significant consequences for their illegal actions, or crime will run rampant. Having lost officers in my own department from the hands of the criminals they were trying to place in custody was not only an absolute loss of life, but an attack on society and government itself. There is way more ill goten money to be made, if they could just keep out of custody, whatever the means. A complete brake down. These people were not under the influence of the drugs when they killed, in most cases, they were under the influence of the life style that they had created for themselves as a result of the business of “being in the business”!!

    Lack of two parents in the family to pass down and enforce values is what has contributed to the fall and decline of society in general world wide. No different here in Costa Rica than most of the rest of the world.

  4. gill lake on February 1, 2009 12:42 pm

    you ignorant antagonist. do not pretend to represent anyone but yourself, bonehead! I can understand you are frustrated with crime and criminals of all sorts. At best – you are a welcomed guest in that excellant country. Do not wear it out for the for the rest of US with your imflamatory rhetoric.Beat your drum or whatever, elsewhere and leave your vigilanti carcass at some ranch in texas. Definatly dont pretend you can whip up a frenzy in the hearts of our countrys finest for your aspirations. What the heck are you thinking?….’ass deep in West Michigan


  5. Tim on February 1, 2009 1:52 pm

    I have no idea who you were commenting to… me or one of the other commenters… but thanks for sharing your clear and cogent thoughts!

  6. Steve on February 1, 2009 4:00 pm

    I thought what Tim said was not inflamatory. It seemed to me that he is being protective of a peaceful Costa Rica. If what he says is the truth, do you want him to hide it? I think his warning that crime is creeping into Costa Rica is very constructive, and I didn’t sense he was putting down the country’s finest, but rather that the legal system seem to be going awry, as it has in so many other countries. We might not agree with the severity of hanging for hostage taking and stabbing, but what do you recommend, that we thank him? Are you related to him? :-).

  7. Sal on February 2, 2009 12:07 pm

    I live in Costa Rica, my wife is Costa Rican and my children go to school in Costa Rica.
    And I agree with your sentiment that this is a great country. Having said this, Carcasss, while I just joined this website, and do not know Mr. Gieser (or you), I see nothing inflamatory towards CR in Mr. Geiser’s remarks. He is merely stating the truth – crime throught the world is on the increase. I just read today in AM CostaRica (amcostarica.com) that murder in this country is up 28% over last year. Moreover, I recently read a report confirming Mr. Gieser’s comments with regards to crime committted by the children of single parents. I was a little shocked, but it the fact is, 70% of all incarcerations are children of single mothers. I do not like this anymore than you do. You can google this info.
    Again, I too feel that this is a great country, and can only hope and pray that the increase in crime, here, the US and worldwide takes an about face. But I suspect this will not happen until there is more responsible parenting.

    Thank you


  8. Bob Gieser on February 2, 2009 12:12 pm


    Maybe there is more of a latin cultural thing to Your “COPS Story” than we think. The Colombian FARC released three police officers yesterday and plan to or already have released a law maker and a govenor. The A.M. Costa Rica (maybe not a proper literary treatise on the subject) reported and named the govenor and law maker, but did not name the police officers. Some of thre police officers were hostage for 7+ years, I believe. The local reporting stated more than a year.

    Some people in developing countries view the police as necessary evils. They need them to keep general order, rescue them from an automobile accident, their child from an abductor, etc. But when they get stopped for an infraction (speeding) they gladly offer a payment to make the situation go away, rather than be bothered by the alternative.

    This may be why they are paid at the lower rung of the food chain in some cases.

    Food for thought-No pun intended!

  9. al on February 4, 2009 2:36 pm

    I was born in CR I left at the age of 3 returned at 23.Adopted from here I went to live in California.Of all places Los angeles “Gang banging capital of thee world”.Anyways to make a long however good story short.I got caught up in the gang lifestyle,needless to say it came with all the “perks”Incarceration time away from family etc etc.after being down here 3 years I realize its kind living out there “LA” in the early 90’s.Gangs are starting to become a big facture here.A Lot of the crimes here are happening with more than 2 perps at a time and obviously in my mind the crimes become more serious.I’m not saying all but a lot of these cops do participate in some time of corruption including traffic cops.i agree what a lot of people have say this is not a very same place and its really not looking so good in some places.

  10. Capt. Matt McCulloch on February 12, 2009 1:36 pm

    I have been travelling to CR for the last 10 years. We have great memories, fishing, exploring etc.. unfortunatly the last four years have been marred by violent robberies. In 2007 we had a home invasion robbery where the bandits were armed with .45 acp weapons, very military or police like weapons. The intrudrers manuevered in a organized manner that led us to believe they may have had some sort of training. We were lucky in that we only lost some money and posessions. Last month we found 7 robbers at our friends home in Playa Bejuco. We confronted the robbers who were un armed thank god, we gave three of them a beating they will be lucky to recover from. We were eventually over come by the bandits and were robbed of some petty cash and cameras. This has got to stop, the robbers are in cajutes with the Jaco Taxi drivers, and Police. We will not be travelling in the future to Costa Rica, nor will we be recomending travel to the country to any of our friends. Pura Vida has become Pure BullShit.

    Saddended and angry.

    Capt. Matt

  11. Dbirder on October 12, 2009 1:20 pm

    JaJaJa, like …Gringo go home!..Maybe you should go back home for a while to see what your amazing EEUU is like, as it seems like you have been out of your “reality” for a while. Do read the real papers from back home, not just the bits you pick up, and try to be human and real for a change. If you think your so bloody marvelous country is so good, go back boy! and hurry!

  12. swampfire on October 23, 2009 10:01 am

    I have lived on the Nicoya peninsuila for two years. Montezuma, Malpais, Tambor are some of the towns where I live and visit. I can say from first hand experience and from talking to friends and acquaintences that we are experiencing a huge crime wave. The criminals are fearless, cunning, armed, bold, and relentless. Home invasions, muggings, car break ins and of course petty theft are common, the police and justice system are useless. Everyone I know has been victimized and almost every group of tourists has a horror story to tell. The ticos blame the nicos. The gringos blame the ticos from Puntarenas. The police stand on the side of the road looking for gringos to shakedown. Burgular bars, bright lights, alarm systems and mean dogs are necessities of life here. The politicians don’t care, they’re stealing too, Costa Rica is not a democracy it’s a KLEPTOCRACY!!!

  13. Doooglas on November 26, 2009 12:59 pm

    I prefer the term Idiocracy.
    They’re also not issuing any more weapons permits for expats.
    Welcome to Guatemala.

    Eventually the expats will vacate more and more and all the Ticos in the service industries can go back to no refrigeration, dirt floors and cutting grass.
    As one poster bleated. jajajajajajaja !

  14. Steven on November 28, 2009 5:32 pm

    Im a Costa Rican and is a SHAME that crime rise like hell in just 10 years thanks to ex-presidents like Calderon who let everybody get into the country with no requirements so te drug dealers increase and now we have local “chapulin” near almost every community.
    I just got a fight with one of those scumbags i he almost break my nose.Now im carrying an stun gun to go walk around the place i get attacked.

  15. Daryl on February 8, 2010 10:45 am

    I am a police officer from Canada and I have extensive training in use of force, officer safety and investigations. I along with my wife (a French/English high school teacher) are interested in living in CR. I know that my skill set can make a difference, the only problem is that it seems that CR only hires local law enforcement officers. Is this true or rumor???
    Any info would be appreciated.

  16. Alex on May 4, 2010 12:19 am

    I was born in the US of CR parents and lived in CR as a child and teenager,in San Jose.I love the country very much,I am 36 years old.Politically the country is way more corrupt than most of you can imagine,there’s much deceipt and shadyness.Realestate same crap,an alarming percentage of law enforcement is involved in all types of criminal activity(Fuerza Publica),(OIJ)etc.The powerhouse drug cartels are there from Colombia and Mexico along with many smalltime wannabe cartels especially from Colombia(basically groups of thugs from the larger slums of Colombia,could be any number,very well equiped and will not hesitate to shoot,a vision of murder has been the norm for them for the last 4 decades at least.There are plenty of of slum areas,many people who live there are well to do,but the Ticos that are thugs or have that mentalstate will not hesitate to shoot either,these are not the same Ticos from 20 years ago.Drugs now rule the street scene.Thers’s even a Dominican neighborhood called tierra dominicana a huge drug point many shootouts between them and Colombians for the most part.Costa Rica has become the drugwarehouse between the cartels.immmigration from neighboring countries does not really help,many of the immigrants are good and honest persons,but again a good amount are not,besides most have no academic education,modern etiquette,etc.Theft and violent crime is everywhere literally there are no more excuses.Every smalltime career criminal from anywhere in the world knows CR is a place to make a quick buck-thats a fact.Unless a drastic 360 change occurs the shootouts for drug territory will eventually control the country!There is no army.The corrupt government officials are terrified of the drug cartels.THE WELL TO DO TICOS WHICH ARE MOST cant do a thing even if they want to.I appreciate the guys that are trying to clean this mess!!!The people living in CR are afraid and stressed,Ticos and foreigners alike we must make change!I want info on how I can help,I live in the Northeast but would like to come down and join to make CR a safer country-with the outcome of everyone being able to once again truly enjoy the beautiful country of Costa Rica!

  17. Marrabella on September 25, 2010 3:25 pm

    My husband wanted to move to CR ( from the Pacific NW. USA )….
    After reading this blog I’m staying put.
    As the world economy sours, it’s only going to get worse.
    Of course, gringos will be targeted first and it sounds like CR does not have the security infrastructure to deal with it.
    Coupled with the fact residents can not get gun permits to defend themselves and no army it sounds like a potential nightmare.