Home invasion epidemic spawns predictable results

The murder of a Pacific coast B&B owner during a home invasion is the logical consequence of an upswing in this form of crime.

The Fuerza Pública has moved to beef up the number of officers in the area, but for Barry Lawson, the victim, the action is too little and too late.

A lot of theories have been advanced for the growing crime situation. Some blame lack of employment, of education or of two-parent families.

The number of such home invasion gangs must be large because police made two separate series of arrests in the last few days of suspects. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that one group of four suspects was detained shortly after an invasion of a home at a cattle operation in  Orquidias de Monterrey de San Carlos. The suspects are being investigated for similar crimes in the area, judicial agents said.

The Fuerza Pública captured four other suspects in Tibás Saturday night when they found the men in a vehicle along with firearms, plastic ties, two-way radios and ski masks.

This arrest may highlight one of the problems with enforcement. The Fuerza Pública said the two men carrying weapons were detained but that the other two men were let go on orders of the local prosecutor.

There is a good chance that investigators will catch up with the crooks who delivered a fatal wound to Lawson and took $32,000 from his safe.

Some good guesses are:

• Investigators already know who did the crime, but they do not have enough proof to make arrests.

• The suspects will turn out to be repeat offenders with long criminal records, including convictions, dating back to their childhood.

• One or more of the suspects will turn out to be a juvenile or nearly so.

• All will have some kind of drug addiction.

• The suspects probably come from the Central Valley and make robbery forays when they need money.

* Investigation will show that the invasion of the B&B in Playa Langosta, near Tamarindo, was one of a long string of crimes by the same group.

• The investigation will show that someone close to the B&B gave the crooks information that allowed them to commit the crime.

• If there are arrests, the judicial process will be lengthy, and convictions uncertain.

• If there are convictions, the sentences will be seven or eight years on the murder count with about half that time off for preventative detention.

These assessments are not speculation. Two of the four persons stopped in Tibás Saturday night fit much of this profile.

One is 30 years old with 12 previous cases in court for drug use and two for domestic violence, said the Fuerza Pública.

The other is 28 with 22 cases for drug use, four for robbery, one for aggression with a firearm, one for attempted murder, one for carrying a firearm illegally and one for burglarizing a vehicle.

The Orquidias de Monterrey case involved the invasion of a cattleman’s home by four masked men Thursday night. The invaders found only a guard, and they tied him up, judicial investigators said. The loot amounted to a handful of firearms, said agents.

The guard managed to free himself and call authorities, and the four suspects were detained with what appears to be the stolen firearms in the vehicle, said agents.

The suspects were remanded to the flagrancy court, but the results have not been released yet.

The murder of Lawson took place in an area that has been short of police officers. Residents complained to reporters after the April 1 home invasions that there was no police station in use and that hardly any police were visible in the community.

Nearby Tamarindo has a reputation of being a wide-open tourism town with plenty of drugs available even on the main street.

Juan José Andrade Morales, head of the Fuerza Pública, went to the area Thursday to discuss the situation with hotel operators and others in the tourism business.

The security ministry reported that Andrade has assigned 15 police officers to the area, including eight from the Policía Turística. The ministry said that the construction of appropriate resources, presumably a police station, will take place. Hotel operators are expected to donate the funds to provide a location for the police station.

The security ministry also said that the area will get two motorcycles and a quadracycle.

Tamarindo is a district of the canton of  Santa Cruz.  Better transportation has put the coastal tourism areas within reach of Central Valley criminals, who find juicy targets with little security in the rural areas.

The response of the Fuerza Pública was predictable. The agency put a large contingent into Limón and San Carlos after high-profile crimes in those areas.

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