Thousands of police are set to patrol areas around banks, ATMs and commercials areas when Ticos start to receive their Christmas bonuses and begin shopping in earnest for the holiday season. More than 3,000 officers are designated for the pre-Christmas prevention operation starting Nov. 20, according to National Police chief Juan José Andrade.
The Christmas operation is nationwide and an additional 141 police officers will be stationed across San José in strategic positions, Andrade said.
Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa said that law enforcement estimates that some ₡700 million— roughly $1.3 million — in extra cash will be in people’s pockets in December from the mandatory year-end bonuses, known as the aguinaldo, the equivalent of one month’s salary.
Criminals don’t respect the spirit of the season and petty crime tends to spikes during the month of December as Costa Ricans flush with extra cash make easy pickings for thieves and robbers. The holiday season also attracts scammers looking to cash in on the bonus.
This graphic from the Judicial Investigation Police shows thefts hitting yearly highs during the month of December (“dic” by its Spanish abbreviation) in 2012 and 2013.
The operation is set to last until Jan. 4, 2015.