This morning I received the following comment on a post related to Chiriquí Watch, however not recorded on Chiriquí Watch as yet.
All this sounds good,but,in the real world..Who knows.What I do know is two days ago the ladrones did 5 home invasions in Potrerillos and tied all the folks up. All 5 were close to the Dona Marie restaurant and were waiting to hear if it was just the gringo homes or were the Panamanians too.
So much for the new police station across the street
We were told our wives CAN NOT use our permitted guns should we be away from home and the whole bunch of us have ordered tazers ! You must stop these animals before they get in or who knows the out come if they don’t get whet they feel is enough !
I decided that it was time to post another, “We’re Not In Kansas Anymore” piece.
Panama continues to have its foreigner population grow. With the growth comes a whole new flock of people moving to live the the life in Paradise as portrayed by International Living and other for profit disseminators of retirement information.
If you are going to move here, then you need to acclimate yourselves into the mindset of living in a Latin American Country. Don’t come down here and think it is crime free. Be happy you didn’t decide to move to Costa Rica.
Compared to Costa Rica, it is crime free and closer to paradise for those that learn to understand it.
No matter where you choose to live in Panama, you need to plan for and prepare for a possible house break-in. Also, don’t believe the propaganda put out leading you to believe that some areas are void of crime. It Ain’t So!
Gated communities have their share of crime and sometimes it may be because of the false security given by living in a gated community.
So how do you plan for criminal activity in your area.
Bars on the windows are a necessity. I also mean well designed bars. Some of the older houses have bars that were poorly installed and easily removed or broken. Also don’t think that bars will keep all thieves out. If they want in bad enough, they will get in.
Personally, I like bars on the inside of the window as opposed to the outside. To get to the bars will require glass breakage and that in itself is another deterrent. Also a thief may approach a house, without obvious bars, unprepared. Bars will be a surprise.
Doors need to well be made. They also need to be equipped with very good deadbolts. Many, made in Panama wooden doors, fit poorly and leave large gaps due to the drying of the lumber. I prefer metal doors for all external doors.
Wireless alarms and cameras are prone to reception problems with concrete block walls especially when batteries get weak.
Any alarm should have its own UPS in case of power failure. Many thieves will cut the power to the house before they try to enter. This also means that you need to install a metal cage around the master power switch for the house that is normally outside the house.
Security Cameras mounted out of reach to thieves are a good idea. Post warnings of your security preparedness and make sure it is in Spanish.
Installation of security systems should be done by individuals with a known background and references.
If you design your own home or if your home has a large sized walk-in closet in your master bedroom, I recommend you install a metal door on it. With that small amount of planning you have provided yourself with a safe room. If you build a safe room, test your cell phone in the room. Remember that landlines may be cut.
If you have a safe room, that is where you should have a safe, if you own one. It should also be as hidden as possible. If you have valuables in your house, no one should know except you. If you are the victim of a home invasion and it is known that you have a safe, they will demand you open it.
I believe there is no better investment in security than having an inside dog. If you have an outside dog, consider it as an expendable piece of security because they tend to get poisoned by thieves.
You need to know your neighbors and your neighborhood. You need to be aware of unusual things happening in your area, such as an unknown cars passing by slowly and often. It is not a bad idea to take photos of strange people or cars in the neighborhood.
Our neighborhood is united with “WhatsApp”, a cell phone application. When something strange is happening a broadcast message goes out to all. One day a photo was sent and it was a photo of a man taking photos of the neighborhood. To my surprise, he was photographing the house I live in! The broadcast message asked if anyone knew the individual.
Your planning for security needs to be tailored to your specific needs. Rural security and city security may require different preparedness.
Remember that thieves don’t normally just show up and try to break in. It is more likely that they will observe your normal routine. You will be surprised how well your neighbor’s know your daily routine.
If there is construction going on in your area, be doubly observant. Crime increases in areas when new construction is going on. Workers going to and from work have been known to case potential houses.
If you hire a maid or gardener do good due diligence before you hire them. Talk to several past references. I don’t recommend leaving maids alone to clean houses unless you have many years experience with them. Well designed houses have bathrooms outside the main part of the house that may be used by maids and gardeners. Gardeners have no reason to enter the house.
They also should not have a key to your house.
You should have a list of all emergency numbers, Police, Doctors, Fire Department, Hospital, etc. I recommend having them in hard copy as well as your cell phone.
If you are a U.S. Citizen, I recommend that you have the contact information for the U.S. Embassy and the Warden in your area. Currently there are Chiriquí Wardens in David, Las Olas, Potrerillos, Puerto Armuelles, and Boquete. All U.S. Citizens should be registered on STEPS.
If you live in Boquete you should be registered with Alto al Crimen and have their number.
If A Crime Occurs
Here are a few of my thoughts about a maintained record of criminal activity.
First is the history. It is searchable and categorized. Bands of thieves move from Dolega to Boquete to Potrerillos and the patterns help identify if it is a new group or a known group. The history is also available to talk to local police and demonstrate an increase of activity. Enough publicity places pressure on local police and eventually potentially even higher. It is information to provide the U.S. Embassy for their communications with relevant Panama agencies. No data – no conversation.
Crime is increasing worldwide because of economic problems. I don’t believe it is any worse here than many other places, but it is different in that residents need to feel like they have to be a part of the solution. If victims only complain and don’t document the events, the events will be soon forgotten. I know of at least two murders of U.S. Citizens in David that have gone unsolved for over five years.
One recent murder in Volcan is well over a month old and I don’t think the autopsy has even been released. That crime has yet to be documented on Chiriquí Watch.
Yes, it will be different living in Panama than it was in the U.S. For me it is better and I love it. However, it requires the right attitude and planning to make it serve each individual.
There is pilfering in paradise and worse. But, as Roger Miler used to say, “you can be happy if you’ve a mind to”.