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National Police, banks beef up security ahead of holiday season

Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata announced the start of a holiday security operation starting Friday in downtown San José and in the central cantons of each province to safeguard residents who will be collecting or spending money in the coming weeks.

A total of 3,500 National Police officers will be patrolling primarily commercial areas and in the vicinity of banks as employers will begin distributing Christmas bonuses, or aguinaldos, starting next week. Under Costa Rican law, employers must pay the bonuses by Dec. 20.

Surveillance tasks will be carried out in coordination with banks in what ministry officials call “Operation Aguinaldo.”

National Police officers will increase patrols in all areas surrounding banks, ATMs, malls, shopping centers and bus stations.

Surveillance by mid-December will expand across the country in a special operation designed to protect citizens during public Christmas and New Year celebrations. Increased patrols will be extended to highly populated communities in various provinces.

Police presence will also be boosted at massive events such as the Festival of Light, the National Horse Parade, the Zapote Festival and Christmas concerts.

“We will be looking to protect families so they can enjoy the holidays in peace. We will put all our efforts to safeguard citizens in public places, at vacations destinations and in their communities,” Mata said.

Joint surveillance operation

The Costa Rican Banking Association also launched a special security operation Friday inside and outside banks. It will continue through Jan. 31.

ABC spokesman Roy Ulate said Thursday that bank leaders have coordinated special surveillance operations with assistance from National Police officers and Judicial Investigation Police agents.

Measures include increased presence of police officers at banks and also plainclothes agents who will be patrolling inside banks and near ATMs in order  to identify criminals who might be targeting bank customers.

Bank security officers also will conduct periodic inspections of all their ATMs to guard against attempts to attach devices to retain or clone credit and debit cards, a criminal activity that usually spikes during this time of year.

Recommended: Don’t let thieves steal your Christmas bonus!

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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