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Old 12-07-2012, 07:49   #76
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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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.
Never been to the Carribean / Central America - but from my experiances in SE Asia your mention of skin colour is spot on. It means you are perceived as rich. and it is easy to forget that "you" are the odd one out . or to over-assume that it no longer matters. and that applies whether splashing the cash or simply walking down the road.

Although not been back for nearly 5 years now, one thing I noticed very much over the previous 15? years of on and off visiting (mostly extended periods) was how the culture of deference had changed within the societies themselves and towards others. No longer the case that being a Westerner automatically gives you a free pass (from things that affect the locals). One of the benefits of globalisation is that whilst folks in poor countries might not understand the technicalities of why they have the short end of the stick economically and you don't - they now understand that they do. and many are p#ssed off with that, at least enough not to care what happens to "you" , and some have realised that on there home turf that often enough no great penalty for "payback" with the side benefit of "you" being a resource to be harvested by fair means or foul.

Right or wrong? and actions out of all proportion? (would you chop someone up for $10?.....or $100 Million....or because you felt under threat? or they simply looked at you funny?). From a Judeo-Christian standpoint the answers are pretty much considered normal - but if folks want to rely on others thinking along those lines and having the same normals then all I can say is "Good luck with that approach" .


IME very different between being based somewhere (and therefore being a known quantity) and simply passing through (espeically in a locale where folks are known to pass through). Not to say that being a known quantity is automatically good (he is easy pickings!) but being someone who is known to be on freindly terms with locals is a detterent as folks don't know who you know / know well enough to later cause problems for them.....even if you are dead.

Folks simply passing through are easily identified (not seen 'em before!) plus by their actions / interactions with the locas......and are a good target as unlikely to be any great comeback from them after an incident (even if not personally - in practice you do need to be on the ground, whether pushing the police etc for action or getting a bit inventive within the private sector ). Indeed to encourage folks to move on after the incident, then raping someone would make sense..........

It's all about not being the easy target (criminals are not all completely stupid - robbing a cruising boat does make perfect sense for the likely pickings vs the downside in an area where the wealth onboard is more than most of the locals have). How that is done is a seperate matter (it ain't a question of morals - it's a question of pragmatics), one thing in my travels that I learnt early doors is that with some folks it is not a case of needing a reason to kill ya, it is having a reason not to (dead people are generally less of a bother later - pragmatism).

Obviously a squillion threads already on CF on how to defend self / boat / family / possessions - personally I would consider a MarkJ style companionway hatch grill pretty much mandatory. Gun or no gun is largely irrelevant when the assailant(s) are standing over you as you are woken up.

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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.
+1

If folks can create a downside (after an incident) then won't mean that the boats won't be a target in the future, but makes them less attractive. As I said, most criminals are not completely stupid - even if most of them are not the sharpest tool in the drawer.

If you have folks ashore (locals with business interests? / Expats?) then all the better. Collectively folks can take preventative action by standing watch of a nightime, perhaps with an hourly sweep of the anchorage with a searchlight and / or regular radio checkins. Could even whizz around with a RIB (and a searchlight) now and again. Hell, could even pay a local to do that. If I had a local business for which cruisers were customers, then paying a local to drive a RIB around at night (even if I needed to borrow a RIB from a cruiser!) would be cheap enough - and good marketing, as well as protecting my own pocket. The bloke on the RIB is not there to shoot it out with anyone, just to alert folks of danger (and call the Police (or others? ) ashore and more importantly to make the risk of identification higher (for later comeback) and to show that some folks ashore care (also for later comeback).
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:55   #77
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

D.O.J.

Excellent post, food for thought.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:35   #78
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

All these posts about Violence, makes me think a Pit Bull would be a good investment!! also one of the best reasons for a genny and air conditioning Ive ever heard! then ya can lock up and at least have the noise of them trying to get in to wake ya up!! We only have a couple of scumm dogs !! but no one gets near our boat we don't know about !!and we also have deck lights I leave on at night, that have there own battery! a real simple system to rig! it's worked for us for years !! justa couple of thoughts
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:55   #79
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It is refreshing to have one of these threads include someone with if not first hand experience at least a witness to events. It allows balance to the discussion.

Thanks.

I hope they come out of this alright, but it will be a long road for both of them regardless of the brave face they are putting on.
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:30   #80
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

Sorry, but spiked booze and toxic drugs/chemicals in a baggie? Seriously? Apart from the (il)legality of carrying these, how would you ensure that the culprits drank the spiked booze first? And if they drank it after they left (taking it as part of their booty), how would you ensure that they didn't share it with some innocent third party? Or are friends of burlgars also entitled to the death penalty?

And the suggestion that death would be an appropriate penalty for a 16 year old who broke into your unoccupied boat to commit petty theft because "he knows he is breaking the law", is also a bit extreme, don't you think? I mean, even if your concept of justice begins and ends with the biblical 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', you are going too far.

Cruising boats are and will continue to be targets in developing nations. In the result, surely the best solution is to minimize the risk by one or more of the following:

1. avoiding anchorages with questionable histories;
2. anchoring in proximity to other boats (I know, that didn't help here);
3. avoiding overt displays of oppulence (ditto);
4. installing a motion detector in the cockpit and micro switches on large hatches and the companionway, hooked up so as to set off not only a very audible alarm, but also the spreader lights;
5. removable stainless steel bars inside all large hatches and the companionway.

If you are anchored near other boats, the activation of the deck lights/alarm is very likely going to scare off any intruders, especially after they see the bars blocking their way into the interior of the vessel.

Brad
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:43   #81
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

The perimeter would be better at the rail. That permits you to use your whole deck without having to bother with the hatchbars and hatch alarms. Not saying those are a bad idea, probably a good second line or a backup. In the tropics I'd like to sleep in the cockpit or slung in a hammock in the rigging. I'm putting a lot of effort and expense into my globally mobile home, so anyone intending to use my deckspace for whatever purpose had better have prior permission. It also keeps the helm, rig, dinghy and the anchoring system safe in my sweaty little mitts. I vote for board nettings, unclimbable and uncuttable in secrecy, with a dog's nose and ears as a bonus alert system. Now, I just need a defence system to stop pelicans gobbling up my four footed friend when going walkies.......
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:16   #82
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

[QUOTE=Celestialsailor;987138]
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Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
Lets not use this sad incident to make cruising a dangerous thing. QUOTE]

No...Let's not do that...Hey...she was whacked in the face with a gun and raped 3 times! I'd say that was dangerous. I understand your point but cruising has many risks. We have to have a grasp on the reality of cruising. Staying at home on the Internet is not a dangerous thing. Sailing a boat on the open Ocean to foreign countries that live in poverty can be dangerous. Some people I met in the 90's modified their companionway steps to fold up and block entry into the boat. It wouldn't hurt for us to draw conclusions from this incident and look at our own security and how we can't protect ourselves and loved ones.
Right on.....the cabin needs to be secured no matter where your afloat...these days anywhere is dangerous...:/
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:19   #83
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Unhappy Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

Sunday, November 16 2008 @ 09:04 PM COT
Contributed by: Don Winner
Views: 1,432
By Luis Carlos Rodríguez for La Critica - 60 year old American James Hansen, who was shot three times in the back and once in the thigh last Tuesday in the district of Antón, remains hospitalized in a private hospital in Panama City and is recovering from his wounds. Hansen was traveling with his 25 year old Colombian girlfriend Liliana Beltrán when he was attacked by unknown assailants.
Gringo baleado en Antón se recupera

Luis Carlos Rodríguez | Crítica en Línea

Estable en una clínica privada de la ciudad capital, se mantiene recluido el norteamericano James Hanses, de 60 años.

Hansen recibió tres impactos de bala en la espalda y uno en el muslo derecho el pasado martes, en el distrito de Antón, cuando viajaba junto a su novia, la colombiana Liliana Beltrán, de 25 años.

Panama is a very dangerous place. Law enforcement did nothing in my case and I put together all the evidence for them. I went to the FBI with evidence and they did nothing. I KNOW WHO THE PERBS ARE AND THEY DO NOTHING. In order to get the Panama police moving on this I needed to hire a lawyer. The first lawyer quoted me $5,000 just to start the process file a criminal complaint against the perps but said it would cost more towards $20,000 for the follow through. Follow through with the criminal system in Panama by hiring a private lawyer. INSANE. I then went to Panama hero Don Winner for help. He wrote back a blunt email. File your criminal complaint and until you do DO NOT WRITE ME BACK. Don didn't want to be bothered with my problem. I just didn't have $5k hanging around to start the criminal process. Thanks Don for your help.

Be prepared to defend yourself and your family and don't count on law enforcement. The article about me was wrong. It is 6 shots not 4. I had the will to live. I know have the will bigtime to defend myself and my Colombian wife with proper planning and vigilance. She is now my wife.

I can relate to these people that were robbed and abused. My heart goes out to them. I wish I could give them advice that would help. Please contribute to the reward fun for the perps. They will need the $$$ for a private lawyer to follow through with the police.

I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am just a little angry at law enforcement but will get over it. My wife (girl friend at the time) still suffers from PTSS, Post traumatic stress. She is who I feel bad for. She was not shot. A true miracle.
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:55   #84
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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Originally Posted by boatsail View Post
This is a very rough world. Is this area known to be trouble? ...or....was this something that does not normally happen there?
Not too many crimes against boaters in Bocas. A killing a few years ago of a Boat Captain near Petregal (near David) . A couple of boat Captains killed south of Colon and boats stolen (serial killer, he's in prison).

A serial killer that killed a number of people near Bocas Del Toro, now in prison awaiting trial. Numerous robbery's and break-ins around Bocas with little police result.

Most of these captures were the results of Don Winners tireless efforts to push the police. I commend him for this. If you don't have Don on your side, I feel most crimes of this nature against Gringos will never be solved. Besides having Don on your side you might need thousands of dollars to hire a private lawyer to push the police and help gather evidence.

Who ever called Panama paradise should be reprimanded.

No none of this stuff happens in Panama. YEAH RIGHT.
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:24   #85
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

Nice to have this perspective from someone with experience in the area. I get sick of hearing how this could happen in any large city in the US. I sleep with my doors unlocked where I live. We have a police force that is active and cares. What people don't seem to get is when a city has an unresponsive police force, it gives the perpetrators reason to continue the behavior. thanx for your post James.
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:51   #86
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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Panama is a very dangerous place. Law enforcement did nothing in my case and I put together all the evidence for them. I went to the FBI with evidence and they did nothing. I KNOW WHO THE PERBS ARE AND THEY DO NOTHING. In order to get the Panama police moving on this I needed to hire a lawyer. The first lawyer quoted me $5,000 just to start the process file a criminal complaint against the perps but said it would cost more towards $20,000 for the follow through. Follow through with the criminal system in Panama by hiring a private lawyer. INSANE. I then went to Panama hero Don Winner for help. He wrote back a blunt email. File your criminal complaint and until you do DO NOT WRITE ME BACK. Don didn't want to be bothered with my problem. I just didn't have $5k hanging around to start the criminal process. Thanks Don for your help.
Glad you survived your experiance

As I said previously, never been to Central America so no idea who Don Winner is but sounds like his approach is quite reasonable. Your problems are not his and I doubt he has a magic wand, even if he has some "mojo" in Panama. Someone would need to help him help "you" and in this case that sounds like putting hand in own pocket for a lawyer first, otherwise he can likely do SFA (apart from warm words). Your choice....and I can understand why you would not do so, but that not anyone else's choice or problem.

Given that you have identified the perps, personally I would at least look into spending the $5k elsewhere in Panama. Ideally when I wasn't.

Having said all that, I do sympathise - folk don't truly understand about being alone until up sh#t creek abroad. Bad enough when troubles strike at home and you realise how few people you know are actually willing to step up to the plate in a time of need - when abroad you quickly find that most (if not all) the folks you know won't want to get involved (and IMO very sensibly so - after all, getting shot 6 times is often enough an indicator that someone was involved in stuff / with people that it would be prudent to not also get involved with).

Not saying that is the case with you and the wife, but a natural reaction for others. Me included.....and I have been on both sides of the up sh#t creek abroad scenario (never shot though and me is not dead either ). Personally I like the view of sh#t creek from the armchair (or bar!) better......best advice I have given folks in the past is to suck it up and leave / move on with life - and be glad you still have one. Sometimes all folks need is someone else to give them "permission" to get the f#ck outta Dodge .
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Old 12-07-2012, 13:40   #87
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
Nice to have this perspective from someone with experience in the area. I get sick of hearing how this could happen in any large city in the US. I sleep with my doors unlocked where I live. We have a police force that is active and cares. What people don't seem to get is when a city has an unresponsive police force, it gives the perpetrators reason to continue the behavior. thanx for your post James.
From my perspective, the police force that is active and cares will find the perps after the crime is committed. Not much comfort if I am dead.
I always think back to the Thomas and Jackie Hawks murder....Newport Beach, Ca, not known for high crime. Keep you guard up everywhere, stay away from known crime areas to better the odds.

C
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Old 12-07-2012, 13:46   #88
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Thumbs up Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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Glad you survived your experiance

As I said previously, never been to Central America so no idea who Don Winner is but sounds like his approach is quite reasonable. Your problems are not his and I doubt he has a magic wand, even if he has some "mojo" in Panama. Someone would need to help him help "you" and in this case that sounds like putting hand in own pocket for a lawyer first, otherwise he can likely do SFA (apart from warm words). Your choice....and I can understand why you would not do so, but that not anyone else's choice or problem.

Given that you have identified the perps, personally I would at least look into spending the $5k elsewhere in Panama. Ideally when I wasn't.

Having said all that, I do sympathise - folk don't truly understand about being alone until up sh#t creek abroad. Bad enough when troubles strike at home and you realise how few people you know are actually willing to step up to the plate in a time of need - when abroad you quickly find that most (if not all) the folks you know won't want to get involved (and IMO very sensibly so - after all, getting shot 6 times is often enough an indicator that someone was involved in stuff / with people that it would be prudent to not also get involved with).

Not saying that is the case with you and the wife, but a natural reaction for others. Me included.....and I have been on both sides of the up sh#t creek abroad scenario (never shot though and me is not dead either ). Personally I like the view of sh#t creek from the armchair (or bar!) better......best advice I have given folks in the past is to suck it up and leave / move on with life - and be glad you still have one. Sometimes all folks need is someone else to give them "permission" to get the f#ck outta Dodge .
Thanks for your response. $5,000 was the downpayment. Total would be around $20,000 he said. You need a lawyer to push these Panama law enforcement or the process goes very slow and I mean slow if it moves forward at all The problem was his traveling from Panama City to Anton 2 hours away and back for the lawyer (more for me). These lawyers in Panama see $$$ in the word Gringo. Price go up very fast. I have evidence to convict the perps but getting it properly to the authorities and me traveling 4 hours there and back every time to do translations or whatever would be dangerous as in Panama its easy to get someone killed for a $1000 or less so the travel down the highway for me would be a big risk.
Anyway making waves in Panama is very dangerous as it is a little of the wild west. Sure they bust alot of drug, but with the help of USA law enforcement.
The killings in Panama rarely get solved. Only way it happens is an expensive lawyer, Don Winner and/or your own investigation and your own justice.

About 3-4 years ago 4 perps killed a guy on a boat in the Rio Dulce Guatemala at night when he resisted. His wife lived. He and his wife were anchored out with other boats near Frontiera.
The local gangs quickly stepped in and killed 2 of them (the perps) and the other 2 were caught and I believe killed in the prison. I was there last year and asked a few people what was the final story in the killings and this was the answer I was given. Supposedly the gangs also killed 14 family members of the perps long after they were dead. Lots of Gringo's there and I guess they the gangs who control don't want the Gringo's messed with.

Anyhow enough of my rants and raving. Thanks for listening.
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Old 13-07-2012, 03:59   #89
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

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About 3-4 years ago 4 perps killed a guy on a boat in the Rio Dulce Guatemala at night when he resisted. His wife lived. He and his wife were anchored out with other boats near Frontiera.

The local gangs quickly stepped in and killed 2 of them (the perps) and the other 2 were caught and I believe killed in the prison. I was there last year and asked a few people what was the final story in the killings and this was the answer I was given. Supposedly the gangs also killed 14 family members of the perps long after they were dead. Lots of Gringo's there and I guess they the gangs who control don't want the Gringo's messed with.
am not surprised at that - that's how it worked in Thailand (otherwise how could somewhere with a higher murder rate than the US be regarded as so "safe" and in practice also be that - as long as you don't go off piste........where the fun is and the challenges ).

Happy smiley Tourists = big money (and that's from the legit stuff).


Problem comes when that dynamic gets disrupted and does not get replaced by the rule of law (in practice - not just in theory, everywhere has all the usual laws on the books - implementation varies).

$1000 seems a lot though
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Old 13-07-2012, 04:45   #90
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Re: Violent crime in Bocas del Toro

Thanks for sharing, sailingwithacat.
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