Banking and Crime Related

I received an email about some U.S. Citizens that had their bank account closed and were robbed after leaving the bank with their account’s money.

I called the individual, who was no willing to discuss much on the phone, so I was unable to really assist her.

Here is the net out of the story as I understand it. It has two issues. First the bank “mysteriously” closed the account. If you are a U.S. Citizen and have recently tried to open an account in a Panama Bank, you may have noticed that the banks are not that interested in having U.S. citizens as clients. The U.S. banking regulations have become too onerous for some banks and it is just easier to operate without U.S. intervention

The banks have the right to close anyone’s account as I see it.

The second part is that after leaving the bank with all of the account’s money, the individuals were robbed. Again, this is not all that surprising. I have mentioned in several posts that a practice of some thieves are to station people in a bank watching for large withdrawals and to follow them in order to rob them.

This especially true this time of year when people are removing money to shop for Christmas gifts. If you know that you are going to be leaving a bank with a large amount of money, it is best to plan ahead for that event.

If you are a U.S. citizen and are robbed, I would advise reporting it to the police and to the U.S. Embassy. The Embassy can’t do anything to get your money back, but if there is a trend, the Embassy can put out an advisory notice of the trend.

Scopolamine in Panama

I thought I would pass on some more information that recently was posted on our neighborhood watch WhatsApp group.

This warning was sent from friends in Panama City to neighbors on my block, and they shared them.

The warning involved the use of Scopolamine, which has been called the zombie drug in Colombia. With Panama being a neighbor of Colombia, it is not hard to imagine that it is now in Panama.

When Lilliam read the message, she said it had been in Costa Rica a few years back. She then gave me a long lecture to not open the door for anyone that is outside that I don’t know.

When I first read about it, i didn’t give it much credibility, however now that I have done some research, I think the warning should be posted. While doing my research, I found the Snoops writeup on Scopolamine, and if you are’t careful, when you read it, you could assume it is a hoax. Snopes is a site that debunks many hoaxes.

However, if you carefully read Snopes, you will see that it is refuting some cases in the U.S., not that the drug exists and has been used in Colombia.

Especially this time of year when many are going to be shopping in Plaza Terronal, there will be some opportunist thieves looking to relieve unsuspecting people of their purchases or money.

The crooks uses several methods on the victims. One is to pass out fliers or tickets that have even dosed with the drug. Another is selling fake perfume and getting you to smell it.

If this drug is inhaled, then it puts the victim in a state that allows them to follow commands given by the thieves. I remember a fellow writing me about a year ago and what he described happening to him in Boquete sounds just like Scopolamine.

You can do what you want, but I consider this a threat and worth paying attention to.

Restaurante Chefi Robbed in Downtown David

I just received the following information in an email about a daytime robbery in downtown David. This small restaurant is across from the Policlinica.

I don’t know if you heard or not, but yesterday at noon the small restaurant where I drink my morning coffee was robbed by 3 men and 1 woman..$$ 1500.00 Restaurant Chefi.

Crime Update

My morning email contained an email from the Boquete District. An individual was opening the lock to his finca when two thugs attacked him. One hit him and threw him to the ground while the other took his bag with all his ID, both from here in Panama and from back in the U.S. along with some money and his cell phone. Along with those items they also took his U.S.passport and his Panama Air ticket.

He had called to ask the procedure for getting a replacement passport. The process is not that difficult. You have to report the theft to the Panama authorities and receive a document from them of the passport theft.

Then you have to contact the U.S. Embassy in Panama City and make arrangements to go there and get an emergency passport. They will make it a priority item.

Crime seems to be on the uptick. There have been recent armed robberies in restaurants and fincas. All of these types of crimes seem to fuel the gun advocates promoting guns as a solution. In the case above, had the individual had a gun on his person, it would most likely have been taken from him and he might have been shot with his own gun.

I believe in being as prepared as possible to prevent being a victim, but there will always be cases in which you couldn’t be prepared. In those cases, I believe the best thing to do is remember that things can be replaced. Life can’t. Continue reading

Robbery at El Fogón in David

Our neighborhood is connected using the WhatsApp cellular application. Today I received a message stating that Restaurante El Fogón was robbed yesterday about 9:00 PM.

Following is the original Spanish message:

Anoche asaltaron el restaurante El Fogón. Clientes y propietarios fueron despojados de celulares , relojes, prendas, etc. O sea todo lo rápido y fácil de tomar. Eran 4 Entraron antes de las 9 de la noche. Por suerte no le hicieron daño a nadie. Tengan cuidado cuando salen y no lleven carteras no celulares.

English translation:

Last night they raided restaurant El Fogón. Customers and owners were stripped of cell phones, watches, jewelry, etc. Everything that was easy and fast to take. There were four that entered before 9pm. Luckily they did not hurt anyone. Be careful when you go out and take no purses or cellulars.

Be alert and be careful. These things do happen in Panama.

Wake Up Call

Let there be no doubt, bad things can happen when you are young and fearless and trusting. Natalie Ann Holloway disappeared in Aruba in 2005 and her body has never been found. She was young, fearless, trusting and in a foreign country.

Now Panama has its own mysterious disappearance of two Dutch girls. Boquete is becoming famous for the wrong reason. The following video is from a Holland news broadcast.

After further thought, youth has nothing to do with it. You only have to be fearless and trusting to become a victim. Maybe only trusting. Continue reading

Missing Girls in Boquete, Panama

HERE is a FaceBook page on the two girls.

IMG_6818313947260

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.