Bandits take 215 pistols from traffic police storage facility

A group of bandits robbed more than 200 firearms from a Policia de Transito temporary storage area early Monday morning after subduing two private security contractors assigned to cover the building.

The Judicial Investigating Organization confirmed that four men had taken part in the heist and accomplished it by gagging and tying the guards then entering through the main entrance at about 1 a.m. One of the guards was an employee of the security firm contracted to guard the premises while the other was an employee of the construction company working on the new police facilities adjacent to the warehouse, said César Quirós, director of the traffic police force.

The Ministry de Obras Publicas y Transportes reported the warehouse was being used to house the guns as well as other equipment while the construction work on the regular facilities was under way. A ministry spokesperson declared none of the radio equipment or bullet proof vests was stolen from the premises. Also 165 firearms identical to those stolen were left untouched by the burglars, the ministry said. The 215 guns stolen were all 9-mm. Glock pistols used by the transit police. The value of the stolen guns amounts to about 83 million colons, the ministry reported. That is about $165,000.
The warehouse is in Plaza González Víquez in the center of San José where the ministry is located.

The robbery came only weeks after the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública vowed to get tough on the circulation of elicit and unregistered guns in Costa Rica.

The Transit police are not part of that ministry. Transit officials report they will be conducting an internal investigation into the incident. The Judicial Investigating Organization Robbery Division is in charge of the principal investigation.

Judicial agents searched several homes Monday night in search of the weapons.

The Glock 19 pistol is a compact weapon with a 15-round magazine. It is slightly smaller than the Glock 17 that is a standard with many U.S. police agencies. The Glock 19 only weighs 21 ounces or about 595 grams.

The Glock 19 appears to sell for around $500 in the States, although some Web sites say that there are discount prices for military and large police purchases. The transit police appear to have paid $765 each, although there are a number of accessories available.

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