San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tourist Police Accused Of Stealing From Tourists

A judge ordered a police chief and another police officer suspended for three months pending an investigation into allegations they stole from tourists.
Carlos Méndez, Garabito canton’s tourist police chief, and a Jacó municipal police officer identified by the last name Ulloa, stand accused of indirectly stealing a video camera from Argentinean tourists.
Jacó Judicial Investigation Police Chief Kléver Paco, whose office first arrested the police officers on Feb. 22, said the original four thieves were Colombians. He said after stealing a car, $1,800, 250 euros and the camera near Playa Hermosa, they dumped the item in an unkempt grassy field after fleeing.
Because the dumping area is well known to the authorities, Méndez and Ulloa took advantage by taking possession of the stolen item but leaving it out of their official reports, Paco said.
“It’s a delicate matter but the law is being well applied,” Paco said. “Additional charges could be filed because Méndez used an official police vehicle when they went to the field.”
Paco said a third tourist policeman with the last name Alpízar was also with the men during the alleged crime. So far, he has not been suspended.
“There’s not enough proof against him,” Paco said.
The suspended officers were ordered to stay way from Jacó, a beach town on the central Pacific coast, and not speak to the witnesses. Their suspension could be extended another three months and they could ultimately be fired.
No charges are being pursued against the original thieves, who all have refugee status, because no stolen items were found in their possession, Paco said.

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