Judy Griffith Gill has it pretty well correct when she reflects on unreported crime in Costa Rica. This is, however, a worldwide phenomenon that’s hardly unique to either Costa Rica or Latin America.
Whenever the police agencies are perceived by the people to be ineffective at solving crimes, for whatever reasons, crime goes underreported. What’s the point?
But this same thing happens in under-policed areas of the United States, too. It’s been a well known fact for decades that, especially in poorer neighborhoods, policing is less effective, less aggressive, than in more affluent neighborhoods, and crime reporting goes down. Until people have confidence in the police’ investigative performance, what indeed is the point?
Ms. Gill also rightly reflects upon an apparent anomaly of Costa Rican law. If the rules of evidence in Costa Rica’s Napoleonic legal system exclude consideration of recovered stolen property, again what’s the point? Why make a big effort to recover it?
The resolutions for both these problems are to give the investigative arm of Costa Rican law enforcement, the Judicial Investigating Organization, more resources and to make their findings admissible at trial. Until then, the problem will persist.