This Tico Times story illustrates the only reason I would leave Costa Rica. Petty theft is rampant here and there is no consequence. None. As in zero. Unless spending one night in the slammer is considered a consequence. It’s clearly not a deterrent.

I’m not afraid of petty theft – we had plenty of that in Key West. Plenty of that everywhere. But if it got violent, if armed robbery escalated here – there is some but even then it’s rarely violent – but if it escalated and there were still no consequence, I couldn’t live with that. All emphasis mine.

Robbery Victims Frustrated by Police’s Actions

By Blake Schmidt, Tico Times Staff

An English teacher and a yoga instructor from the United States yesterday said they are frustrated with the way Costa Rican authorities handled the robbery of their car Saturday while they were headed for an afternoon dip in the ocean at Playa Hermosa [where I am right now], on the central Pacific coast.

Though the two reclaimed only some of their belongings and ended up missing about $400 cash, the Public Security Ministry reported Sunday that Tourism Police recovered $10,300 belonging to Grace. [Not true. Why would the Tourism Police report they’d recovered $10,300 when that is not true? To make themselves look more effective?]

U.S. citizen Phil Hemion — a teacher and resident of Heredia, north of San José — said he and his friend Melissa Grace, a resident of the central Pacific beach town of Jacó and yoga instructor, looked on helplessly from the beach Saturday while three suspects in a Geo Tracker broke into their car with a screwdriver and took Grace’s bag full of cash, jewelry and other valuable items, as well as some clothing.

Hemion and Grace called the police, who said they had already stopped the car in Jacó because of previous reports that it had been used in suspicious activity.

“There are a number of organized gangs operating throughout the country, and we had identified this as a car previously involved in illicit activity,” said Tourism Police Director Katia Chavarría.

Police searched the car and allowed Hemion and Grace to look through it until they found all the stolen items with the exception of a ring, a cell phone chip and about $400 cash, Grace said, adding that police did not handcuff the suspects and allowed them to rummage around the car while they were searching.

“Police would not search the car again to find the remaining items,” Hemion said. The three suspects – two of them Colombians with refugee status identified by the last names Cortés, 67, and Castaño, 30, and the third a Costa Rican, identified as Cordero, 21 – were detained overnight and released the next day.

Chavarría said she didn’t know who filed the report saying police found $10,300 belonging to Grace, but that it was false.

Chavarría said the case is now in the hands of the Garabito prosecutor’s office.

"Released the next day." That’s like a bad joke.

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