Cops flock to the streets in annual Yule effort

One of the most profitable times for Costa Ricans can also be one of the most dangerous.

Beginning in December, the doling out of traditional Christmas bonuses, called aguinaldos, for workers and the spike in tourism activity fills the cash registers of local businesses and streets with easy targets for thieves and criminals looking to capitalize.

Already, officials have reported assailants took a woman and her baby hostage with a gun Wednesday in Concepción de Tres Ríos and forced her to withdraw money from an automatic teller machine. They robbed her of 500,000 colons and $3,500. The two victims were left in a rural area.

Armed intruders also robbed a restaurant in Ipis de Goichoechea and all its patrons Wednesday night. And in a separate incident the same day the Fuerza Pública reports its officers were able to thwart a bus robbery in Desamparados when officials responded to an emergency call. Two armed suspects were detained. The Fuerza Pública along with municipal police are hoping “Operation Aguinaldo,” utilizing saturation patrols in San José and around the rest of the country, will be able to prevent further incidents from taking place.

The plan was initiated today, and police could be seen on nearly every corner in downtown San José.

But experts from the assaults division of the Judicial Investigating Organization are warning that criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated with their schemes and that steering clear of the dark figure on a secluded street at night time doesn’t necessarily guarantee security.

Using networks of informants, many criminals scope for potential victims in banks, at cash machines, or possible tourist hot spots, sometimes following the unsuspecting person all the way to their house or residence before robbing him or her.

Tourists can be an attractive choice for a robber because they often carry money and electronics.

The robbers are commonly armed and can have several accomplices.

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