Crooks now offer cell phone rescue

Crooks have applied their successful extortion racket involving stolen cars to stolen cell phones.

For years owners of cars that have been stolen have been given the chance to buy back the vehicle when crooks call them. Sometimes the deal is legitimate. But frequently the crooks just want to get the owner alone somewhere when he or she is carrying money.

Considering the number of holdups and thefts, the illicit market for hot cell telephones probably is glutted. That may be why a woman who was a robbery victim Jan. 11 got the chance to buy back her cell telephone. A caller invited her to pay 50,000 colons, nearly $100 to do so.

In this case the crook had the cell telephone and surrendered it upon payment of the money at a restaurant in the center of San José.

The woman had contacted the Judicial Investigating Organization, and agents witnessed the exchange and then made an arrest for extortion and possession of stolen property.

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