Cops scammed expat motorist for $650

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I want to inform the public about the police corruption I experienced during my drive from Jacó to Liberia area.

I drove past a slow moving semi-truck and, unfortunately, a police trap was waiting. The officers directed me to pull over. They were blue uniformed and had a blue truck and a tow truck was with them. They smiled and laughed when they realized I was a tourist. One officer asked for my passport and rental car registration. He said “Friend, you vacation is over. Please get out of the car.”

The two officers walked me over to the tow truck. The smaller officer opened a little violation booklet filled with prices in U.S. dollars. He never informed me of what my violation was, but showed me the Spanish written booklet page with $600 written in.

The taller, thinner officer said “We can write you a ticket, and you must go to the bank and pay 600 dollars. But, my friend, we will do you a favor. Pay us $300, and no ticket.”

The skinnier officer said to talk it over with my partner and walked away.

I complained and asked for leniency but no mercy from the chubby, shorter officer. I gave $300, and then he said, “I think you better give $50 more.” He gave me my passport and said I could go. I got in my rental car, and he came up to the window and said “No ticket, no ticket.”

I turned around and went back to Jacó. I gave up on visiting Liberia and the coastal area. The next day I visited a friend in Hermosa and his Costa Rican wife. I told them my story. The wife was mad and called the police chief in the Liberia area and reported my story. He said they know officers are scamming people. He told her I should go back to Liberia and fill out a report.

I told her without a third party representative I am worried to go to the Liberia police station. The next day I talked with another friend, and he told me there is a Judicial Investigating Office in Jacó. I went to the office in Jacó and filled out a report.

The Liberia police chief said passing on a double yellow line ticket would only cost around a $100 at most. I believe that is what my violation was.

But the officers never said what my violation was. I was so intimidated that whatever they said, I could not have argued. The thinner, taller officer kept making like he was getting the tow truck ready to take my car.

William Castro
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