Bold gunmen strike at the very heart of shopping district

Even though dozens of police officers have been stationed downtown, a band of bold robbers is sticking up businesses on San Jose’s Avenida Central, better known as the pedestrian mall.

The robbers struck again Monday, this time a bit off their territory near Hospital San Juan de Dios on Paseo Colón. A shoe store operator suffered a bullet wound in the leg.

Visitors to San José have noticed a dramatic increase in police presence. In addition to Fuerza Pública officers, many of them new recruits, the central canton also has a municipal force. The increased policing is a program of the Chinchilla administration.

Still the daring robbers seem to have no trouble evading the police when they commit their crimes, mainly between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Downtown shop owners are bracing for yet another robbery. The gang is believed responsible for five stickups in the last 10 days.

Meanwhile in Grecia judicial agents detained three minors
and two adults Monday in six raids. They said the five were a gang that has been robbing stores in Grecia and San Isidro. The agents from the Judicial Investigating Organization confiscated five television sets, a flat computer monitor, a keyboard and other electronic devices, they said.

Agents said that the five also are suspects in home robberies.

In an unrelated robbery and murder case, the Poder Judicial confirmed Monday that three men suspected of killing a competition cyclist Jan. 31 have been remanded to prison. This was a highly publicized murder of John Mauricio Castro Hidalgo, 25, in Coris de Cartago. Castro, an engineer, was practicing with three friends when they were confronted by an armed trio.

The court action took place in the Juzgado Penal de Tres Rios over the weekend. The trio were identified by the last names of Barrantes Sánchez, Membreño González and Mora Morales. They were detained in San Francisco de Dos Ríos, in San José and in Herradura de Puntarenas Friday. They are jailed for three months for investigation.

The murder resulted in the publication of similar cyclist robberies and revealed the dangers that these athletes face. Police also beefed up patrols of known bike trails.

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