Tag Archives: Crime

WhatsApp Neighborhood Networks

As a result of my previous robbery post, I am going to talk about the WhatsApp application again. My neighborhood, and many other neighborhoods, are using this smart phone application as a means to quickly and easily notify neighbors with information.

One of the uses is alerts about crimes or potential crimes.

Suspicious people in our neighborhood will have their photos distributed immediately, asking if they are known by someone living in the neighborhood and should they be here.

With a few clicks, messages can be distributed to friends, family, clubs, and neighborhood watch groups, etc.

If your response is that you don’t have a smart phone, my response to you is “get one”. This is becoming technology that may save your life.

Besides a smart phone, you will need to have a data plan with a mobile carrier. They cost no more than $15/month or less. With that, you have access to the internet from your smart phone, even if your electricity is turned off in your house.

In this current situation, the individual could have sent a message simply saying, “I hear noises in my house and am going to check”. Then the person could shout in the house, “ I have notified neighbors and police , if someone is in the house, now is your time to leave”. Of course the verbal notification should be spoken in Spanish.

Now, if something does happen, there is a recorded timeline of the occurrence. If there is nothing going on, a followup “All Clear” message can be sent out.

I recommend that all bedrooms be safe rooms, meaning that they can be locked. If you think something is possibly going on in another part of your domicile, you should not leave your safe room until you KNOW it is safe.

WhatsApp is not a complete solution, but it is one that should be in your arsenal. You should have several of the following items as well (dogs, bars on the windows, alarms, cameras, membership of neighborhood watch groups, a buddy that checks on you at some given frequency).

You can’t eliminate crime in the Panama, but you can prepare for its occurrence.

Report of Break-in around the Nuevo David/Emerald Drive Community

The following report was posted on Boquete News on FaceBook. Neighborhood watch groups work. The YouTube video above shows the three individuals walking the Nuevo David/Emerald Drive Community neighborhood in Boquete. If you see individuals in your neighborhood, that don’t seem to belong, record their activities and notify the authorities.

Report of Break-in around the Nuevo David/Emerald Drive Community, by Michael Moore.

About 4:30pm, neighbors noticed 3 individuals walk into our community and continue down one of the connecting streets in our neighborhood. These individuals didn’t belong in our neighborhood. So the neighbors got in their car and drove a couple blocks to a house where they saw these folks walk to. When the good neighbors got close to the house, they observed two perps outside the back of the house by a barred window looking in and who appeared to be chatting with a person inside the house. When the good neighbors pulled up, the perps took off running to the far side of the community where there is a creek. This was about 4:45pm. The police were called and they arrived within a few minutes. The neighborhood whatsapp security group was contacted and told there were thieves in the area. When my wife and I arrived about 5:20pm, Captain Arauz and two police officers were onsite…and other officers were patrolling the larger area.

It was believed that one of the perps might still be in the house. So, the owner was contacted and he gave permission for neighbors to enter the house to search for the perp. The police concluded that the perp who got into the house, slipped into the house through the 1 foot square security bars. The neighbors loosened the security bars and entered the house. Above the windows with the security bars were two large unsecured windows through which a quick escape could be made and booty from the house sent out. The security bars were flimsy and of poor quality. The property did have a perimeter defense system…but it was turned off. A search of the house by 3 neighbors showed no one was inside. One neighbor observed that the TV was in the process of being wrapped and that stuff in the house had been shuffled about.

Recent Armed Robberies

There have been two recent armed robberies in David. One in San Mateo, where the owner of a small grocery was shot and killed and one last night in Plaza Terronal’s Do-It Center.

Plaza El Terronal – Do-It Center Robbery

In both cases one of the robbers was taken into custody. Panama really needs to take a hard look at the lenient laws related to minors. If a minor is caught committing a crime, they get nothing more than a slap on the wrist and are soon allowed to be back on the street.

This promotes gang violence and crime and has to be addressed, if Panama wants to change the growth in crime.

The Do-It Center robbery occurred at closing time. It should be a reminder that you have to pay attention of your surroundings especially if you are going to Plaza Terronal in the evening or night hours. Getting money from ATMs at night is not the best of ideas.

I would think all small business owners and restaurants will have to start being concerned again about evening robberies. A year or so ago, restaurants were targets in the evening hours. Many restaurant owners would unlock their doors to let you in and then re-lock the doors to protect their clients.

Every time Lilliam gets ready to visit her daughters and I am staying here alone, she spends an enormous amount of time reminding me to keep the doors and backyard gate locked at all times. She reminds me to take Koki out to pee no later than 6PM and then close all blinds.

Many might think she is overly cautious, but she has lived in David over 30 years, so I know she speaks with experience.

I really hate to see crime increasing and hope the Panama government focuses on the problem, especially crime committed by under aged minors. More police will not cure the problem, if there is no real punishment for minors committing crime.

Just The Facts Ma’am

Just The Facts Ma’am

Yes, I used to watch Jack Webb on Dragnet.

Today I was in PanaFoto and was approached by a Chiriquí Chatter reader who lives in Volcan. She asked my opinion about something that had happened recently in Volcan.

This is my attempt to present what I heard, so that the real facts may come out.

The lady told me that, recently, a friend of hers had had three cars pull up in front of her house and tell her that they were from the police and that the police had been notified that the house had guns in it and they had to inspect the house.

They were let in. One went with the lady through the house. I don’t know what the others did. The net out is that they left after looking through the house.

After listening to the story, I said that , if it were me, I would not have opened the door for anyone I didn’t know, including people representing themselves as police. There have been robberies in David by individuals representing themselves as police, Cable Company Employees, and other official looking uniforms with one story or another to gain entrance to the house.

I said before I admitted anyone, I would have called the police and told them that I had people at my front door (representing themselves as police) asking to enter and I want to know if they are they official.

It is obviously more difficult to do that if you don’t speak Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish, it might be worth your paying for Rodney’s service, so you could call him and let him communicate with the police in your behalf.

After the lady left, I called a friend I have in Volcan and he and Jorge, from Mana, went to the police to check on the situation. The police knew nothing about it and said if the police were to go to a house as described, they would take someone from the DIJ with them.

As I said earlier, this is all hearsay to me, but I feel it is important to share in hopes that it creates some discussion and roots out the facts.

With the recent spike in crime in Chiriquí, both Boquete and Volcan are taking actions to prevent more house invasions and break-ins. Road checkpoints have been established in some areas.

If you know the individuals that were involved, I would advise their going to the Volcan police and discussing the situation. At minimum, go see Jorge and have him go with you to the Volcan police, if it warrants. 

I don’t like posting hearsay, but I am making an exception in hopes that some good will come from it.

Update on Latest Santa Lucia Boquete Armed Robbery

The following was posted on Boquete Ning by the individuals that were robbed in Santa Lucia Boquete.

Anyway we are quite o.k. now. We are very pleased with the help of all our neighbours. The police was fast and very good.

As I speak fluent Spanish things worked out fast.

Yesterday I made a statement at the police office in the street on the left after Multibank. Helen has to come back with an interpreter. The car has been found intact but locked in David and towed to the police parking. First thing we did yesterday morning was a visit to Scotia Bank. Blocked the Debit Cards.Nothing had been taking of the account. They also changed our account number in order to prevent shopping on line.

The police has been very busy on thursday because of 7 attacks and robberies around Boquete. The governor of Chiriqui is coming today to Boquete to discuss and take tough measures to prevent crime. At the entrance near the tourist office they will put a surveillance post also with cameras. The police advised us to buy pepper spray and tasers.

We also got a letter from the police for a free medical examination in David for the case in court when they catch the criminals. The two men were normally dressed between 22-26 years old, normal hair. Dark Panamanian skin. They both had a gun. They must have been watching us for some time, as are dogs are inside the house when we are out and a big sign of our alarm. They knocked on the door and Helen thought it was one of our neighbours opening the door. They pointed their guns at us and the dogs ran out. Fortunately they did not attack as that would have caused a tremendous gun battle.

I lived in dangerous Nigeria and in Saint Lucia (Caribbean), but this assault has been the fist in my life. Thanks again for all the support. Robert, Helen and the 4 doggies.

A Blind Eye and a Deaf Ear

I first visited Chiriquí in early 2002. I spent two weeks looking around Chiriquí and from that short amount of time I decide to sell my home in Texas and move here. I was just as naive as many moving here now.

However, there is one big difference between then and now. When I moved here crime was almost 100% crime of opportunity. You leave your garden tools laying in front of the house they would disappear. You leave the house unlocked, you might come home to fine your laptop or other small items were missing. You might pull into a manual gas pump and not notice that the attendant didn’t reset the pump and you wound up overpaying for your gas.

Sure there were murders, just like in all parts of the world, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Fast forward 13 years to 2015 and the picture has changed a lot. This is not just my viewpoint. On my block, I am the only gringo. I believe everyone on my block is concerned with the increase of crime. Our block has chosen to add an extra layer of protection and we have a night guard that patrols the street. Our block periodically meets and usually the topic is security.

Moreover, this is not just the increase in crime that worries people, but there is also a change in the types of crimes. There are still crimes of opportunity, but there has been a tremendous growth in armed home invasion. In many instances this winds up in death of the occupants of the house.

Until recently, it seemed that the English speaking community only learned of this through the grapevine. Social media is helping to get the word around, providing the social media you belong to contains it. For a while some areas seemed to prefer keeping crime quiet because it might affect home resale value. Continue reading A Blind Eye and a Deaf Ear

Paso Ancho Home Invasion

On another Yahoo group the following Home Invasion was recently posted.

Carmen and I were invaded last Monday by a couple of 20 something neighborhood hoodlums at about 8ish am broad daylight!. One of the boys threatened Carmen brandishing a machete, (I think that they believed that nobody was home and that they would have free-reign of the place; that’s why Carmen had completely surprised them when she quietly showed up between the greenhouse and the kitchen area thinking that the noises she was hearing was just myself rummaging around in the kitchen; when she saw a masked young man skulking low around the kitchen area, she then courageously and loudly asked him what in HELL was he doing in our home and to get the HELL out immediately!! The other idiot then responded to her screams by entering from the dining area where he was staking out the situation with a machete in his hand-no mask; when I heard Carmen screaming and I began to react to the situation-too late, unfortunately or fortunately; because, we both believe that if I had seen them I would’ve gone into a raging ‘berserker’ mode with these idiots; and it could have turned out much worse, I fear!); anyway, after she screamed “J O O O H N”, they left so fast-thank goodness-that I didn’t even see them as I left the backroom to see what was happening with Carmen screaming! She was in the small greenhouse by our kitchen in the front of our home. The invaders had entered through the kitchen door after having hopped the fence in the southwest corner that is right next to the road and Dirk’s place. It all happened sooo fast that I didn’t even see them leave. Carmen DID get a clear look a the machete-brandishing kid, though. Luckily, two of our neighbors saw them and one identified the one carrying the machete.
We went to the corriadora, Orquidea, up in Cerro Punta, after we had called the policia/DIJ, who all showed up within the hour. Lt. Martinez and one other came to take the report and then 5 DIJ fellows showed up to take notes of what had happened. We don’t expect anything to be done very soon, if at all.
After 12 yrs living here in our little “sanctuary” in Paso Ancho, we now know how lucky we’ve faired. Life has changed for us now in a fundamental way, as we now feel very vulnerable (and realize that we’ve always been very vulnerable to this kind of thing happening to us, as has happened to others of our neighbors some years back. Most of the homes around us have been entered illegally and stolen from, by now, it seems. We are now in the process of putting up razor-wire and, eventually, an electric fence, as well, to, hopefully, prevent such easy access to happen again to soon, at least; but, most importantly and as is already being done in other areas, we are also are organizing a neighborhood-watch group for our section of Paso Ancho. We met Saturday and will meet again at the end of the week. Please call us, if you live in our section of PA. Our numbers are on the Highlanders.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and please give Carmen a call, if so inclined, as she’s still quite shaken up. We know this is traumatic for all who have experienced such an invasion and we know and feel deeply for those of who have been through HELL with this in the recent past and for those who didn’t make it out alive that are/were friends and acquaintances. Many of us know of whom I refer.
Blessed Be to all in all ways.
John and Carmen

A Tragedy at River Ranch

The following was posted on Boquete Ning and should be more widely known.

Saturday afternoon, July 18 – In casual conversation with Susan Peterson at the Handicapped Foundation, we were discussing the sudden and unexpected losses of Irene Haines and Lee Zeltzer. She observed, “Trouble always comes in threes – I wonder what’s next?” At 8:30 that very night, we had the horrifying answer.

At the request of Betsy, I am writing up this narrative so that we can all understand.

On Saturday night, Betsy Waddington, her 92 year old mother and 52 year old husband Joe Potrebenko were watching TV in the small downstairs apartment of their modest home in River Ranch, some 2km of dirt off the main Gualaca road.

Three intruders entered through a screen on an open window in the pantry, not 30 feet from where the family was sitting. They burst into the kitchen/living room area, the leader brandishing a silver revolver. Joe, sitting next to the TV, stood up and raised his arms and was instantly shot once in the chest from a distance of about 5 feet. Total elapsed time, less than 5 seconds. Of the seven guard dogs, not one of them detected the intruders.

Joe fell to the floor. The intruders grabbed Betsy and her mother, and threw them face down on floor next to Joe. They were tied with computer cords and Betsy was gagged. Within 5 minutes, Betsy felt her husband take his last breath.

Meanwhile, the criminals were screaming questions at them in a gutter Spanish – demanding to know where the guns were and where was the money. During the entire event, the leader, the murderer, was on the cell phone getting instructions from someone unseen.

For the next two hours they ransacked the house, upstairs and down, opening every drawer and container, throwing the contents around. Even though the killers were not masked, Betsy and here mother, terrified for their own lives, are unable to identify any of them.

They seemed to be very frustrated, because these gentle Canadians had no guns and lived a very modest lifestyle. In the end, they escaped with 5 laptops, three of them old derelicts, a collection of “antique” cell phones and about $50. They stole the family car and returned to the house to demand the gate keys whey they discovered they could not get out.

Another hour passed before Betsy and her mother were able to free themselves and drive to the nearest neighbor to call the police. Both on the night of the 18th and today, the 19th, large contingents of police were investigating, taking finger prints and such. Betsy describes them as very supportive and sympathetic. The stolen car is still missing at this time.

Today the Boquete community fell in to support Betsy and her mother, who are being well and lovingly cared of in this time of trauma. Alto al Crimen is also taking a role in the investigation, even as it reels from the loss of key board member Lee Zeltzer only days before.

Please be on the lookout for a red Nissan Frontier pickup with black roof racks and with plate # 782 874.

The question of why remains unanswered at this time. This was clearly an organized hit, with the leader frustrated and taking directions during the event. Were Joe and Betsy really the intended victims? No guns, no money, no valuables. It seems likely that the shooting was in fact an accident, a reflex by a novice shooter high on adrenaline and what else?

Make no mistake, Betsy has seen her idyllic life in Panama destroyed and will never recover from the PTSD that will haunt her forever.

What can we all learn from this tragic event? First and foremost, not taking care of your personal security is not an option. In no country in the world can the police protect you from this kind of attack. It is up to YOU to provide for the safety of your home and your life.

Our prayers are with Betsy and her mother Lorraine. Please give them all of your love.

Mark Heyer

Armed Robbery in Boqueron

Reposting from another website

Place: Meseta in Boqueron
What Happened:
three criminals broke into a house and tied up the house owner and his wife with electric wires. They entered by the back door and threatened the man and his wife with guns, after that, criminals stole 1,500 dollars, one checkbook with blank and some others signed. In addition, the bad guys took some credits cards from Banesco, General Bank, BAC Azteca and others.
The victims are Eric Azura who is 33 years old from Salvador and his wife Ruth Castillo that is panamanian. They could not describe the criminal because they were wearing masks.
They even did not know if the criminal had car or not, but there are some clues that indicate the criminals live in David and there are at least two or three of them that are “working” in the area.