Here is the latest ACS message.
Date: 28 February 2007
Subject: Security Update – Pre-operational Criminal Surveillance Prior to Home Invasion
The Embassy would like to inform all members of the U.S. Citizen Community to be aware of pre-operational criminal surveillance that local law enforcement authorities have identified in Panama City in recent months. The criminals appear to be clean cut, well dressed men. They are believed to be Colombian or Costa Rican. They gain entry into homes with ruses of: the word of God, sales of household cleaning supplies, carpet cleaning, etc.
While inside the residence, they take note of the surroundings. The subjects will attempt to find patterns or schedules as to when someone leaves/arrives. They gain the trust of the domestic help and get as much information as possible. This group will leave a symbol outside the residence where it is noticeable for the rest of their group. In the next step, the person who gained confidence previously will come to the house again; in about a week, and when the door is opened, the rest of the group follows inside the residence. Once inside, the victims are tied up and forced to tell the assailants where the valuables are held. When the subjects feel they have what they want, they flee the residence in a stolen vehicle awaiting them outside. At this point, authorities have no leads in these cases. There is no exact count of houses that have been hit. At this point, they are going on “victim testimonies” and believe that at least 20 residences have been the scene of this type of criminal activity. Attached below are symbols that they have been placed on the residences prior to the attack.
For updated information on the security situation in Panama, please contact the American Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy at 207-7030. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located in The Clayton Building (formerly Fort Clayton Building 520) in the Clayton section of Panama. The Consular Section fax is 207-7278. The Embassy web site is http://usembassy.state.gov/panama and e-mails should be addressed to Panama-ACS@state.gov.