Missing Girls in Boquete, Panama

HERE is a FaceBook page on the two girls.

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After not returning from their hike on Tuesday the 1st of April, 2014, both Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremer have been missing in the area of Boquete Panama. We are unable to get in contact with them and no one knows were they might be. If you know something about their current whereabouts or if you have seen Lisanne and/or Kris lately please let us know. How minor the details may seem everything can help us. Please post your feedback on this Facebook page or send us an email on info@lisannekris.com. Thank you very much. Martijn Froon, brother of Lisanne.

Adding More Security

Over the last couple years, we have upgraded our security in several ways, We started by adding bars to all windows, adding a fence, adding motion detection lights, adding internet connected cameras, and adding a new security front door.

Our most recent upgrade was a security system. I contacted Planet Telecom and had them do the installation. Planet Telecom was the same company that I had install my IP cameras. Alain Mulaire supervised both projects and once again, I am pleased with the job that was done.

Planet Telecom used the DSC product line. This is a well respected product line and can act as a stand alone system or connected to a monitored service.  You can buy cheaper systems, but you get what you pay for, and as I said in my camera install post, I am very particular with the individuals I allow to enter my house.

While I won’t describe my complete system, I will tell you that is 100% covered by backup batteries. Cutting the power to the house will not remove power to the camera system or the security system. In fact removing power will trigger an alert being sent to investigate the power interruption.

If you are planning on moving to Panama, security is one consideration you have to pay attention to. We live in good area of David and an apartment complex a couple blocks away has had cars burglarized at least four times on the pass few months.

A car alarm would not have prevented the car from being broken into, but it would have alerted the owners that the burglary was going on. I recommend installing a car alarm, if your car doesn’t already have one.

I have heard of people leaving Panama for a three month period only to return to find that their home was completely empty. Furniture was taken, appliances were taken, TVs and computers were taken, sinks and other plumbing was removed and even the wiring had been stripped from the walls.. If something has value in Panama, it will be a target.

One thing that newcomers to Panama don’t realize is that you are always being watched by someone. Neighbors know your schedule of coming and going. If you walk everyday at a certain time, it will be known.

If there is construction going on in your area, the workers can monitor your behavior. If you drive from Boquete to David every Thursday morning, it will be recorded. If you have a Wednesday bridge game, that leaves your house vulnerable for that period of time.

We lock all doors, even internal doors, when we go to bed. Our front entries and rear entries are locked 100% of the time, except when entering or leaving the house. Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean that you aren’t being watched for a potential burglary.

Robbery in Volcan

The following was posted on the Volcan Yahoo Group. This is a warning to be cautious all the time, but especially this time of year.

A WARNING
IMGP0030On Thursday evening, during the hours of 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., Russ and Jaydene’s house on Estudiente Road, Volcan, was broken into. Russ and Jaydene had done everything right, a housesitter (who had gone out for an hour), bars on the windows, an alarm system and cameras. Unfortunately the alarm had not been turned on and the camera had been disconnected. The perpetrators most likely used a car jack to open the bars and gain access.

Please be aware that this is the season that burglaries become more prevalent. Before you leave your home, ensure that you do a double check on your house. Check that the windows are closed, all entrances are locked, alarm is set and cameras are in working order. Place all valuables in a safe place. If you see someone unusual in your neighborhood lurking about, write down a description of the individual or take a picture of the person. If there is an unusual car, write down the description and license plate. Also, if you have a routine, change it up a bit so if you are being watched they will not know when you are leaving or returning.

It is is obvious from this burglary that an individual or individuals were watching and aware that no one was home and they had the time to jump a 7′ concrete wall and use a jack to open the bars. JUST BE AWARE. If you are robbed or burglarized, please immediately call the Volcan Assistance Hotline at 6477-6662. Do Not clean up – wait until Azel or others come and take pictures of the incident and the police arrive.

If you would like more information on the Hotline, please call Azel Ames at 6449-7006 or Richard Kongable at 6448-1749.

Sorry About That

I need to apologize for the warning about the keyring tracking threat that I posted yesterday. My source was a local lawyer and he normally is a good source for crime happening in David.

Since the message I received, was in Spanish, I didn’t research it as well as I should have. Sorry about that!

However, crime is on the uptick in David and I think in other places in Chiriquí. I make no apology for trying to increase the awareness that you need to be vigilant, especially during this time of year.

The malls are going to be crazy from now until the end of the year. Technology is not required to monitor people making withdrawals from ATMs and following them with the intent of taking their money. Packages in the cars will also create invitations for opportunists.

I have noticed more security in Plaza Terronal recently and expect it to increase, the closer we get to Christmas.

In our neighborhood, all have secure houses. Many have alarms, some are monitored 24/7. Some have cameras and this block has a nighttime security guard. I do not know of any house on the block that doesn’t have a dog or dogs.

I am the only gringo on this block. That should tell you that the locals are investing in security and not just a paranoid gringo. Security is something that should not be ignored.

I will say that our block has very effective communication utilizing WhatsApp. Virtually nothing is going on without everyone being immediately notified.

Our block still has some construction going on and when there are workers coming and going there is always a higher risk of crime. Luckily, there iare not many more locations for construction here.

So, again, I apologize for the erroneous threat I posted yesterday. My intentions were well founded. My execution was flawed.

Theft Warning

I just received the following warning on our neighborhood watch WhatsApp. I have translated it as best as I can.

Keyring theft  was a hoax and removed. I don’t get taken often, but I did on that one. DRW

On a second item, a house a few blocks away from me was robbed at gunpoint around noon in the Terronal area. I just had a phone call from another neighbor about a block away who was returning home the same day and a group of young men were running on the street carrying a gun. When they saw her, they ran another direction.

With the Christmas season upon us, it is extremely important to be vigilant. Don’t leave anything of value visible in your car. If you see something suspicious, it may be worth a call to the police.

New Alto al Crimen Report

The following is a new report from Alto al Crimen.

The last two months have seen a series of at least four terrifying home invastion robberies in the Alto Boquete and Volcancito areas, in addition to more minor burglaries. As we have observed in past difficult cases, it is often an observant citizen that breaks the case. So it was this weekend. 
 
Most of you know that a violent robbery took place last Thursday night in Volcancito, sending the victim to the hospital, the forth such attack in less than two months. On Friday, Alto al Crimen commissioned a private investigator to follow up. On Saturday, he was working with the police in Volcancito. 
 
At about 1:15PM, the Boquete Hotline operator received a call from a resident reporting suspicious activity at a neighbor’s house that was unocupied. He immediately contacted the officers who were working in the area. They arrived at the scene within minutes and observed two men running away from the residence.  Continue reading

Security Alert

I received the following from our neighborhood WhatsApp. I thought it was worth posting in English for others living in Chiriquí.

National Guard informs those who leave at night, those who leave University, work and out of school; If you find a child who cries in the street, with an address in hand, and asks them to accompany him/her to that address (albeit close), call or take the child to the police and not to the address… This is the new method that is being used for the abduction, robbery and rape.

WhatsApp message as I received it follows.

La Guardia Nacional informa a los que salen por la noche, a los que salen de la universidad, trabajo y a la salida de los colegios; Si encuentran a un niño que llora en la calle, con una dirección en la mano, y les dice que lo acompañen a esa dirección (aunque sea cerca), llamen o llévenlo a la policía y no a la dirección indicada… Este es el nuevo método que están usando para el secuestro, robo y violaciones.

Some Updates

I have been tied up for several days and still don’t have my head completely above water. The other day I, and other Wardens in Chiriqui, met with the New Chief of the ACS Unit for the U.S. Embassy in Panama City. He was in Chiriquí doing prison visits.

I have also been assisting a US citizen who was in Hospital Obaldia and that will probably be another post at some time for lessons learned by me.

Also, My good friend Malcolm Henderson, has had some healthcare experience, that I will share soon.

Now for some feedback that came as a result meeting the new ACS Chief and correspondence resulting from that meeting.

You may remember that I posted a scam warning had been posted on Chiriquí Watch the other day. It appears that what was reported is actually a Panama crack down on people living here on the tourist visa, which allows a visitor to stay 180 days at a time.

Cases have been reported of a people trying to exit on the 181th day, resulting in a huge fine and being advised to get a real visa. This should be considered to be a “Heads Up” for others.

Several people have been required to buy return tickets and provide proof that $500 was in their possession or credit cards to demonstrate financial viability.

All of this implies that those living in Panama using the tourist visa should be prepared for major annoyances at the Panama border.

Another item I have learned is related to converting US driver’s licenses into Panama driver’s licenses. I was advised to remind everyone that the US license must be Apostilled by the Panamanian government before the actual license can be applied for.

That means taking the document that the US Embassy certifies to the MFA on Tumba Muerto in Panama City. Therefore, if a US license is certified by the Embassy at an Outreach meeting, it would still require the person to make a trip to Panama City.

I was also told that they have recently also started to require all first time persons to go to the Sertracen location at Plaza Carolina for their driver’s licenses.   Renewals can be done anywhere, but first-timers need to go there.  You may want to check your local location to see what they say about that requirement.

Some might make the decision that, if that is the case, they might as well just to take the test in David and avoid the trip. My advise is spend the money and have your US license turned into a Panama license. I know of people that have spent two years taking classes and multiple exams and still don’t have their license.

More to follow, when I catch my breath.

Why Would Anyone Want To Move To Panama?

Now most people, that know me, know I enjoy living in Panama. So why this title for this post?

Well I think this is a question that many are going to be asking themselves, if some things continue as they are now.

I am not talking about the rising cost of living or the quality and cost of healthcare, even though my concern is related to one’s health.

I am talking about the growth of crime over the last few years. I guess one could say that this is partially related to the growth of foreigners that have found Panama as a retirement destination. The general state of world economy also breeds an increase in crime.

Those that are being targeted, however, are not just foreigners. Panamanians are as much victims as are the new foreign residents. The police activity at Plaza El Teronnal, that I posted the other day, was directed to Panamanians to increase their awareness.

There was a major robbery that was covered in the news recently that was orchestrated by gangs from Panama CIty enlisting new recruits from David. Continue reading