Spike in robbery-murders worries law enforcement

A wave of murders that began the year is linked to gang members and other young men who punctuate robberies with additional violence.

The latest case was Thursday when a 27-year-old mother on her way to work suffered a fatal stab wound near the heart in a botched robbery attempt at 5:30 a.m.

The crime happened on the south side of Plaza Víquez. The victim, Alice Fallas Rivera, had just gotten off a public bus from her home in San Miguel de Desamparados, She was walking the half mile or so to the Hospital de Mujeres where she was a guard.

A taxi driver witnessed the crime and tried to stop it. He told investigators that a man approached the woman and tried to rob her. As the taxi driver tried to intervene, the robber plunged something sharp into the women’s chest.

Investigators speculate that the weapon ruptured a major artery in the area of the heart. She was dead within minutes. The robber did not stay to get her purse.

In Siquirries Melvin Badilla González, 44, died Monday when two men broke into his home to rob him. He suffered two bullet wounds in the head. An ex-convict, 24, is a principal suspect.

In Limón a robber at a Maxi Bodega supermarket
Monday killed José Luis Vargas Hernández, a guard who was carrying the weekend receipts to an armored car. Agents think a 16 year old pulled the trigger.

A 24-year-old man, Christopher McLean, died on the public street in Jacó Sunday about 3 p.m. while he walked with family members. Agents are uncertain of the motive for the murder of McLean. It may not have been robbery.

There were other killings since the first of the year, either in family disputes, for vengeance or for reasons other than robberies. In addition there were several cases where robbery victims survived knife wounds or gunshots.

Judicial officials are expressing concern about the increased violence in street robberies. Law enforcement officials thought that they had the situation handled. A flagrancy court has been instituted at which those caught in the act or nearly so are quickly sentenced. Many petty crooks and robbers have been brought to this tribunal.

Fuerza Publica officers have been sweeping areas where vagrants live to assert control.

They also have spent several years doing early morning sweeps of low-income rooming houses and other places where criminals motivated by drugs might stay.

Usually minors who murder face juvenile sentences with a maximum of eight years.

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