San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Alleged tourist bandits arrested, set free

Costa Rica Tourism Police arrested three Colombians they suspect of targeting tourists. As usual here, the suspects were set free the next day by a judge.


Authorities arrested three men – last names Quintana, Correa and Pinzón – Sunday near the Caribbean Bus station in San José after the suspects allegedly robbed some tourists by using the “pinchonazo” method. Pinchonazo consists of puncturing a car’s tires while it is parked, waiting for the driver to drive away, then robbing the occupants when the driver pulls over.


“The alleged gang of ‘tourist-assaulters’ fled in a Nissan Sentra after the robbery but tourism authorities hindered their escape,” states a Public Security Ministry press release.


All three suspects, two of them refugees and another arrested for the same crime in April (TT, April 18), have already been released by a criminal judge. Under Costa Rican law, police can hold suspects for only 24 hours before a judge orders preventive prison, other precautionary measures or unconditional freedom.


“Of course they’ve already been freed,” Tourism Police Chief Katia Chavarría said. “Every day, we’re chasing the same criminals around over and over again. We’re hoping the laws will be changed.”


Chavarría said all three suspects have been arrested on multiple occasions for the same crime.


An omnibus crime bill has been at the Legislative Assembly since March but still hasn’t made it out of committee.

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