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Nosara Residents Worried About New Wave of Robberies and Few Police Personnel

By Fritz Elmendorf

• Nosara Police Delegation Has Only 3 Officers Each Shift
• National Police Cheif Erick Lacayo immedietly responded to a letter sent by the Local Security Association

With burglaries and thefts on the increase in Nosara, and a severely short-staffed police delegation in
the village center, Costa Rica’s top police official, Comisario Eric Lacayo, responded to local concerns.
Those concerns were expressed in a letter from the Asociacion de Seguridad Comunitaria de Nosara (Nosara Security Association). The Association complained that the delegation in Nosara has dropped to as low as three officers, from the 12 that were originally assigned following Lacayo’s visits to Nosara in September and October.

Lacayo responded immediately to the letter, promising to restore the delegation to 12 officers, and further promising immediately delivery of the police car which was promised since last December.
There are also 12 Tourist Police working out of a separate office at Playa Guiones, and Chief Jaison Vargas said his force has been stretched too thin by having to cover the village as well as the beach areas. Both the Tourist Police and the Fuerza Publica have the same authority and report to Lacayo.
According to Agnes Pinheiro, President of the Association, the Association has asked that the village force be part of the Tourist Police as well, to better coordinate the two agencies and keep the corrupt members of the old force from returning. The Association and police are also working toward securing a permanent police headquarters with a modern office.

The Association also requested that a local office be opened of the investing arm, the OIJ, because the local police cannot investigate crimes, and victims have been forced to travel to the OIJ office in Nicoya to file crime reports. Pinheiro said “I am now optimistic that this may happen”.

After Lacayo received the Association’s letter, Pinheiro reported that he set up a meeting with five members of the Association Board, Chief Vargas, Chief of Police of Nicoya, Mauricio Castillo, and his supervisor for Guanacaste, Comisionado Rafael Araya.

The officials promised immediate steps to bring more focus and investigation to crimes in Nosara, Pinheiro said.

While there were 11 reported crimes in April, down from a high-season peak of 16 in March, many also go unreported. Statistics for May were not yet available.

While Vargas said his staff was stretched thin, he said if a crime is in progress his officers will respond in five to 15 minutes also, he said many of the victims are tourists, and property managers need to do more to make them aware of the crime threat here. The police distribute brochures with safety tips at roadblocks they periodically set up to check people’s identification, but the stops are considered an inconvenience by many. Vargas said that “it would take 50 officers to make the Nosara area secure”.
Among the officially unreported crimes are recent strings of robberies occurring along the ‘dump road’ connecting Arenales and Pelada. Vargas said the victims have been Ticos, walking or riding motorbikes at night, and the perpetrators may be those who the police have chased out of the ‘Hollywood’ neighborhood, known for crime and drug dealing. After police patrols focused on that neighborhood, the robbers moved to the Los Angeles neighborhood. When police followed them there, they appear to have moved to the Dump Road, speculated Vargas. The need to fund drug use is the heart of the crime problem, he stated. “When we resolve the problems with drugs, the crime won’t come back,” he said.
Pinheiro said she will help victims make reports if they don’t speak Spanish. She can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 2682-1168 or 2682-0130.

The Tourist Police can be reached directly at 2682-0075 and in the village at 2682-5126, or by dialing 911.

Drug sales can be reported by calling 176.

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