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Old 10-07-2012, 16:27   #46
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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Very very sad to hear what has happened to the lady. I hope they recover fast and put this event behind and try to move on. These kind of events, I think, are very random and can happen anywhere and anytime. Can't suggest something foolproof, but only one thing - don't be an easy target.
Its kind of fish in a barrel in my view. A poor country with gang towns around it and basically a bunch of floating ATM machines in the anchorage. They know if they rob a store, they might end up pushin daisey's but those rich boaters out in the bay are easy pickens. It's not that random. Look at the Somalian Pirates (thugs). The had it made for awhile because nothing was being done about it. But now things are changing.
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Old 10-07-2012, 18:54   #47
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

I feel really bad for the couple.

They will not get over this.

They will only be able to learn to live with it........if they are lucky.

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Old 10-07-2012, 19:09   #48
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

It would seem in much better taste to start another thread to debate most of whats going on above. And leave the victims out of it!

Very sorry for the couple, senseless violence.
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Old 10-07-2012, 22:38   #49
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

Interesting to review the discussion about this horrible event. There certainly is a lot of good thought, and unfortunately some un-informed comments.

As mentioned by "youmeandthed", they, us and the boat involved were anchored together for a considerable amount of time. We were in fact one of the boats closest at the time of attack.

Yes, we have a pretty decent boat, as well as the victims boat, but I would not say the nicest in the area. We are acquainted with the couple that were the victims, and they certainly did not "flaunt" any wealth, as we do not as well. To suggest this attack was the result of flaunting expensive clothes and jewelry on land is absurd... we all travel the same way, wearing the same T shirt for 3 days, old shorts, a dirty baseball cap, and a $10 timex watch. And if the suggestion is that we put latex paint over our varnish to avoid such a violent attack, then shame on you, the offenders will then just attack the better looking ugly.

Why the victim's boat was chosen rather than ours is a question that will never be answered, and we will always wonder. I was up and on the radio for the north boarding, and after some time in the cockpit, without seeing anything, returned to my bunk. I was awakened again around 3:30 with the call from the victims boat (after the intruders left).

The victims were apparently asleep and awoke to the intruders standing over them with a gun and knife. No ability to respond with weapons (if they had them). It is possible I was still in the cockpit of our boat while they were being boarded, but it was a stealthy attack (the victims heard nothing until being woke), so I doubt that even if I was looking at their boat in the dark of the night, that I would have seen anything.

It surely is possible that all in the anchorage could take precautions to slow down an intruder, but then the best way to slow them down is to stay at home. Sleeping on a boat with all of the main hatches locked down in the Panama summer is not a pleasant experience, as I can vouch for over the past few days. This area has generally been safe (petty theft not withstanding), and this type of attack is unusual, and not something the cruising community has set themselves up to defend against.

In the end we could all weld cage bars across our hatches much like some of the bad sections of our larger cities, but that is not why we came cruising. At this point we are supporting the victims of this horrible attack, and doing what we can to help facilitate the capture of the perps, which in and of itself will help deter future attacks. The best, and quick healing to our cruising friends that were the victim of this outrageous attack.
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Old 10-07-2012, 22:57   #50
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

Unfortunately the locals buy more booze everynight than us cheap cruisers, so I dont' see any flaunting on that topic. You might wish to check out "Floating Doctors", a US based charitable free clinic organization that operates here in Bocas del Toros (as well as in many other areas), that provides free medical care both locally and in outreach areas in the region. Among other sources, it has both montetary and voluteer support of us so called "rich flaunting cruisers" anchored in the harbor. Unfortunately it appears to have been too successful, such that it may be embarassing the Panamanian government, and it seems due to that the Floating Doctors are under some harrasement from the local authorities. So much for volunteer medical care, maybe saving souls is safer!
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Old 10-07-2012, 23:24   #51
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Smile Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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Probably because it scare the Sh!% out of people. Everyone wants to think they can defend themselves and that these things won't happen to them. However it is really luck of the draw. We have friends who were still anchored beside the couple while this event took place. They have just as nice a boat with similar gear and perception of wealth. They might have been 200 yards away. But they slept through the night. It is great to think you can out muscle them, or defend with your right to bear arms, but this isn't america. Much of the world, including Panama, does not want firearms on the street. Here you have to submit a sample of your DNA and do a background check that takes 3 months before you can buy a gun.

Where are the guns coming from? People smuggling them in from the USA. So if you get caught bringing in an un registered (in the country you enter) firearm, and do not submit it to the authorities upon arrival you are breaking pretty serious laws.

There was an expat down here with a Panama registered gun who used it to defend an intruder and he was very close to being sentenced with murder. Now if you smuggle a gun into the country, well you broke the law even before you were threatened.

Guns are stupid on a boat, just get a taser as at least they can be used in a closed environment without putting holes in your boat, and not many developing countries make you declare them when you enter as they are not really a firearm.

You don't expect these things to happen, so it is hard to defend yourself. But you can do things like Zeehag said to avoid being a target, and hope that if it does happen to you they don't kill you.

A lot of this defence talk and gun talk is based out of the fear that none of us really know how we will react in such a situation and are afraid that we might ever encounter such horrors. It is best to be on the defensive, because usually when your looking down the barrel of a gun at 2am in the pitch black half asleep and being yelled at in a foreign language, it is to late to be a hero.

Bravo! And give the "D" a pet for us!!!!
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Old 10-07-2012, 23:34   #52
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

Thanx for the update and your first hand perspective. I see you are new here and I hope you hang around so we can tap into your experience. The people who are posting some of the more outrageous sugestions...well...I guess we're kind of use to them here and pretty much glaze over their views. On other topics, some of them do have some good input...
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Old 10-07-2012, 23:44   #53
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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Thanx for the update and your first hand perspective. I see you are new here and I hope you hang around so we can tap into your experience. The people who are posting some of the more outrageous sugestions...well...I guess we're kind of use to them here and pretty much glaze over their views. On other topics, some of them do have some good input...
Thank you for the kind reply, and the advice, well taken. We have been sailing around the eastern and western Caribbean for a few years, in addition to the US east coast. We observe this, and other forums, but for a variety of reasons often don't post. This particular incident has hit home because of the proximity to us, and knowing the people involved, thus I felt compelled to address some of the posts on the topic.

Once again, appreciate the welcome!
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Old 11-07-2012, 04:05   #54
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
Its kind of fish in a barrel in my view. A poor country with gang towns around it and basically a bunch of floating ATM machines in the anchorage. They know if they rob a store, they might end up pushin daisey's but those rich boaters out in the bay are easy pickens. It's not that random. Look at the Somalian Pirates (thugs). The had it made for awhile because nothing was being done about it. But now things are changing.
1. "Random" in sense that moment you sail out from home port and head towards any underdeveloped country. one can not say that so and so port in a particular country is safe while an equally poor country is rife with violence of all kinds. Once you are away from developed countries (where law and order is in place), all bets are off.
2. To me, it looks like they attack yachties because they think they wont hang around for long in a third world countries to press charges or even pursue a prosecution till its logical end.
3. They (scumbag criminals) are/could be aware that the yachties doesn't/cant have a legit weapon on-board at anchorages.

4. ---------------------------------

5. Muggers/scumbags/lowlifes are in a some kind of a win-win situation here.

Not very nice kind of scenario.
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:24   #55
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

"2. To me, it looks like they attack yachties because they think they wont hang around for long in a third world countries to press charges or even pursue a prosecution till its logical end".


They attack cruisers because they know they have cash and basically unprotected. You won't find them robbing banks there that have armed guards, some with a 50 cal. on a tripod.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:02   #56
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

They rob places/boats with easy water access. This is because boats are their major form of transportation here. The cops have a difficult time responding to issues on the water.

I would be cautious to paint Panama with a wide brush. This is being taken very seriously here by the government and local community. As I said before the presidential plane showed up, I don't think that would happen in many other countries.

I think I was misunderstood by many of you when I said put some poison in a small baggy and leave it in your safe with your cash, or spike a bottle of rum with poison and have it specially marked. When you wake up to a gun in your face it is too late to defend yourself, however if you play off their weaknesses (in almost every case, drugs and alcohol), you can still fight. Even if a 16 year old kid breaks into your boat and steals your liquor, he knows he is breaking the law. The laws and moral right and wrong still exist in countries outside of the US.

The flaunting of money is a difficult thing to accuse as sailingwithacat pointed out, we don't walk around town looking like rock stars, we wear dirty clothes, shower infrequently, but for the most part we have a different skin colour, and that is looked upon as wealth. We can't change that.

I want to mention too; there is a strong group of expats and cruisers here who have created a VHF network called the Bocas Emergency Net (BEN), they (mostly) keep their radio's on and when the couple radioed out for help three people responded and the police were notified within 15 min. A cruiser went over to support them within that time too. you can't always stop the bad guys, but how a community responds I think is important, and Bocas is responding very appropriately.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:04   #57
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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"2. To me, it looks like they attack yachties because they think they wont hang around for long in a third world countries to press charges or even pursue a prosecution till its logical end".


They attack cruisers because they know they have cash and basically unprotected. You won't find them robbing banks there that have armed guards, some with a 50 cal. on a tripod.
There are some post on here that stated to stand on the bow and let them take what they want. Hopefully what they want is not more than what you are willing to give. If they have 1 person with the internet or word of mouth and learn of this, they might be more apt to attack as a soft target poses less of a risk for personal injury and we are all animals. Self preservation is high on the list of priorities even with criminals.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:19   #58
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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They rob places/boats with easy water access. This is because boats are their major form of transportation here. The cops have a difficult time responding to issues on the water.

I would be cautious to paint Panama with a wide brush. This is being taken very seriously here by the government and local community. As I said before the presidential plane showed up, I don't think that would happen in many other countries.

I think I was misunderstood by many of you when I said put some poison in a small baggy and leave it in your safe with your cash, or spike a bottle of rum with poison and have it specially marked. When you wake up to a gun in your face it is too late to defend yourself, however if you play off their weaknesses (in almost every case, drugs and alcohol), you can still fight. Even if a 16 year old kid breaks into your boat and steals your liquor, he knows he is breaking the law. The laws and moral right and wrong still exist in countries outside of the US.

The flaunting of money is a difficult thing to accuse as sailingwithacat pointed out, we don't walk around town looking like rock stars, we wear dirty clothes, shower infrequently, but for the most part we have a different skin colour, and that is looked upon as wealth. We can't change that.

I want to mention too; there is a strong group of expats and cruisers here who have created a VHF network called the Bocas Emergency Net (BEN), they (mostly) keep their radio's on and when the couple radioed out for help three people responded and the police were notified within 15 min. A cruiser went over to support them within that time too. you can't always stop the bad guys, but how a community responds I think is important, and Bocas is responding very appropriately.
Well said, and the BEN network is great... Now I would not read too much into the presidential plane being here. There was a major political rally for the Prez's party here on Sunday, that he was attending. Hopefully while he was here he did get an earful about this and put some positive pressure on the authorities to capture these creeps.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:24   #59
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

ok that makes more sense about the plane, but the timing couldn't be better
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:53   #60
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

I love the idea of the crystals in a baggie and spiked booze. But once the bad guys are on to this, it would be a simple matter to force the yachtie to take the first snort and chug some booze. Dangerous.

Wouldn't a hyper active Jack Russell Terrier with insomnia be a good deterrent?
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