Tire puncture robberies surface again

Crooks have been conducting a steady string of robberies involving the deflating of tires on tourist rental cars.

That became known Tuesday when Policía Turística officers were able to detain a suspect in the center of Alajuela. Police said the suspect carried U.S. passports of two robbery victims who had been confronted Monday.

They also found more than 40 credit cards in his possession, so the investigation covers more than one crime.

Deflating a tire is a long-time technique by crooks who have access or accomplices at rental car operations near Juan Santamaría airport. The tire is stuck with a sharp object before or while the tourists are getting possession of the vehicle. Then when the tire deflates, the driver and any passengers are stranded usually on the General Cañas autopista where the robber quickly shows up to claim his prize.

Police said they tried to contact the U.S. citizens who were robbed Monday afternoon, but predictably they already had left the country. The technique of puncturing tires has had a significant impact on repeat tourism.

The technique has not been in the news lately. That seems to be because police are not reporting a lot of routine crimes and only issue a statement when a suspect is caught.

The Policía Turística were able to detained the suspect, identified by the last name of Monge, because they had a warrant. Officers must have had knowledge of his activities before the most recent robbery.

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