No menu items!
91 F
San Jose
Friday, July 12, 2024

Lessons from Costa Rica: A Tale of Theft, Frustration, and Pura Vida

A friend– I’ll call him Lenny– recently became a crime victim for the first time here. His car was broken into on the street in San Jose, and his laptop and a drone were stolen. Two days later, back home from the mean big city, he had hardly cooled down. I met him in a beachside bar.

“I left my car in public for less than half an hour. In broad daylight on a busy street. My laptop and my drone. The two things I need for my business here.” He shook his head in disgust and downed his beer. “I looked around on the street for anyone who might have seen something, a cop, anyone. Amazing how everyone goes blind when this happens.”

I asked him why, after more than 15 years of living here, he would leave valuables unattended in a vehicle parked on a public street– especially in San Jose.

“I was only going to the ATM. Got there and it was out of order. So I found another one, but it charged like ten bucks because my card was from a different bank. Then found the one for my bank and there was a line because only one of the machines was functioning. And it’s not like I left my car up some dark alley.”

“So what did you do once you saw you had been robbed?” I asked.

“Drove to the nearest police. The Oh Eee Jota.” He fairly spit out the letters OIJ– the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial, where one goes to report such crimes. “As if that would help. As far as that office is concerned, the I in OIJ stands for indifference.” He ordered another beer, and a shot of tequila. “I filled out some forms and signed some papers and was told to keep in touch so to speak. As if the police here are going to do anything.”

He downed his shot and drank half the beer in one gulp. “It’s cool that we don’t have an army, but not so cool that we really dont have much in the way of a police force either. I mean what do they do? In my neighborhood, they drive around at night, 20 miles per hour, with their lights flashing.

What the hell is that? It’s like an early warning system for the criminals! A couple of punks down the street, getting ready to break into a car, and then they see the flashing lights up the street and stop what they are doing and wave to the cops as they drive slowly by. On down the street another punk is hassling an old lady, and the cops are like, ‘Papi, be a good boy. We don’t want to have to take you in and lock you up for an hour now, do we?’. Not that they actually want to get out of their car to begin with.”

I let him vent. And drink. He had finished his beer and now had another shot and beer in front of him. The first law of defending your property in Costa Rica is: Don’t leave anything where it can be easily removed. And he had ignored it. Bad people are out there, ready to relieve you of your goods. Don’t make it too easy for them. He failed to take precautions and now he was out a few grand and would need a few days to get back on his feet.

He stopped venting. He didn’t stop drinking. He had another tequila and beer at his elbow. Sometimes it’s good to drown your sorrows. It was his own damn fault in the end, and he knew it.

Latest Articles

Popular Reads