Manhunt!

helicoptor

Up the road towards San Jose and near the local hospital is an area known as Loma Linda, or, less pleasantly, the Precaria.

The land itself is, or was, a finca which was the property of  a governmental institution which neglected it….and gradually seasonal workers, Nicaraguans come to pick coffee, started to set up permanent homes there, undisturbed.

Gradually the shacks made of galvanised sheeting became proper houses inhabited by families. The electricity system was hacked into to provide light and power…the water system likewise. It looks like any other village in the area and the council has now started a scheme to legitimise landholding…and to collect taxes!

Being something of an Alsatia, where no writ ran and dubious characters took refuge – many thanks to Mike of A Bit About Britain for reminding me of that part of London’s history – the area has been viewed with disfavour by its neighbours for some time, a view exacerbated now that Costa Rica has changed from being a staging post for the drugs trafficked between Columbia and the U.S.A. to a full blown market in itself.

Our little town has been hit hard…drugs on sale outside the schools, not to speak of inside, where the police now mount raids with drug detection dogs. Drugs on sale outside a popular restaurant and in the central park.

And with drugs use comes crime, to get the money for the next fix, so  not only is there the regular crime of stealing anything not nailed down but also housebreaking and mugging.

Little crime kingdoms have risen and have become profitable enough for other crime kingdoms to try for a takeover.

Last month there was a shoot out in Loma Linda between the resident crooks and a gang from one of the suburbs of San Jose, the action ending suddenly with the arrival of the police.

Ah yes…the police. There have been changes.

The new police chief has sussed that the regular penal judge has a great respect for the presumption of innocence and for the level of proof necessary to disturb that presumption. In other words, the alleged criminal will be free  to leave the court without  stain on his character on a normal judicial day.

Personally I think that the Fiscalia – State Prosecutors – might have something to do with the attitude of the judge. From what I have seen of their preparation of certain cases they seem to be acting as substitute lawyers for the defence…but, however that may be, the new broom has decided that it is only worth mounting large scale action at the weekends, when a duty judge is sent down from San Jose.

These gentlemen, used to the rough and tumble of the city’s summary courts, seem to have a looser definition of the necessary level of proof…bring one of the undesirables before them and they end up in preventive detention before you can say Jack Robinson.

So, last Friday, police nabbed a well known ne’er do well as he and his female companions were boarding a bus for San Jose. They were found to be carrying a quantity of good reported as stolen.

The duty judge issued a search order, and the home at Loma Linda gave up a vast quantity of other goods reported as stolen.

Six months preventive detention, and our boy was marched off to the police cells to await transfer to the jug.

By now public feeling was running high. Social media resounded to calls of ‘Burn the Precaria’, while honest residents of same responded that it was not their fault that they had criminals as neighbours and where were the police…

Public feeling was to run a damned sight higher that night when it was learned that our boy had escaped!

He had asked to go to the loo, and once out of his cell had assaulted the officers and made a run for it…through the main entrance of the police station!

Now, our little town is a bit of a joke, even to itself, but this was too much!

A manhunt was organised.

Local police, the local detective branch, specialised police from San Jose…and even a helicopter!

The ‘phones were hot as locals alerted the police to possible sightings…

He is Barrio St. Cecilia…he is climbing in and out of gardens…

He is in Barrio Carit….running off into a cafetal…

I am in Barrio Corazon de Jesus…I have shut myself into my house and he is in my garden…

I’ve just seen him in Barro San Isidro……

He is in Charcon! No, not that Charcon, the other one….

Thank goodness for the helicopter!

Not being a very bright criminal mastermind, our boy had legged it for home in Loma Linda where one of the San Jose police was keeping an eye on the premises. Spotting him, the lady…for it was a police woman ….attempted to arrest him. He fought back, injuring her, and she later said she thought she would be obliged to use her firearm, but a – female – colleague, alerted by the noise, came to the rescue and between them they managed to overpower him.

He was taken to the local hospital to have his physical state recorded…he seemed to have various injuries related to his refusal to be arrested…and was taken thence to the cells of the local detective branch where I suspect that he will have to exercise a great deal of bladder control before he is taken off to the jug.

As he now faces charges relating to escaping detention and attacks on the police women it is likely that his preventive detention will last rather longer than six months…to the delight of all right thinking people in the area.

Lucky that they caught him before the regular judge came back to work on Monday, though…

 

 

Bennie Hill and the Bold Gendarmes

We’ve had a plethora of visits just lately….from neighbours dropping in for coffee  to friends coming for dinner via the Man from the Water Board, the CID (or the OIJ as they are known here) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Man from the Water Board came to inspect the great water reorganisation project and succeeded in arousing the fury of The Neighbour (cut off from said project) to the extent that he has been busy turning off the stopcocks all over the Three Valleys  in order that pressure higher up the system will burst the pipes…

Let no one say that he lacks a knowledge of physics and roll on the date of the penal court hearing for non respect of the law….though it is rumoured that the man with the tilapia farm is not prepared to wait that long to see The Neighbour get his comeuppance.

I don’t mind the Jehovah’s Witnesses….they feel called to spread the Gospel – which is considerably more than the local Catholic priests get round to doing – are perfectly polite, not at all pushy and we revel in common stupefaction that I can read aloud the Spanish language verses of the Bible  which they present to me.

All I can say is that with the shades of my Scots Presbyterian headmistress hanging over me I am prepared to give it a try in any language….Miss Dickie’s views on reading the Bible were trenchant and had distinct staying power.

Further, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have the approval of Monty the lamb, who has decidedly territorial instincts allied to a fleet turn of foot, an acrobatic capacitywhich would put Olympic champion ice dancers on their mettle and a good line  in charging and butting.

The Witnesses pet him and he behaves…like  a lamb.

The CID (OIJ)  – two young men imbued with a great deal of legal theory and sociological claptrap – came as part of an investigation into The Neighbour’s recent activities, hydrological and other.

Apparently the Fiscalia (Prosecutor’s office) can’t (or more likely won’t) investigate any complaints about The Neighbour while he is awaiting his appearance in the superior penal court for crimes of omission and commission.

Undaunted, people have taken their complaints instead to the OIJ who are not altogether pleased by this, occupied as they currently are by a major fraud on  ‘movement of cattle’ dockets in the local branch of the Agriculture Ministry involving the husband of a mayor; a public employee whose dispute settlement procedure involves a claw hammer and a link to an Anmerican run paedophile pornography business flagged up by the FBI.

I suspect that the boss decided that sending these two tyros out on the track of The Neighbour would get them

A. Onto the ground

and

B. Out of his hair.

They refused to get out of their car until the Alsatian was persuaded to have his siesta inside the house and then sat down with us in the porch, brandishing clipboards, forms and biros…..

Was this our complaint?

Yes it was.

Did we want them to go ahead with it?

Yes we did.

Were we sure that the whole thing did not arise from our failure to understand Costa Rican culture? After all we came from a North American background, did we not, where everyone kept themselves to themselves whereas Costa Ricans were continually in and out of each other’s houses, the relationship between neighbours being most important….

No we were not North American. Scribble, scribble on the form.

Costa Rican culture was very like that of France, where the relationship with nearest neighbour,  ‘le grand voisin’, was extremely important. Scribble, scribble….

Further, we were not aware that Costa Ricans and more exactly The Neighbour expressed their relationship with their neighbours by trying to hire someone to bump them off, even if done incompetently.

No, it was not normal, they agreed, but how did we know about it? Since we were still alive, as it were.

Because the young man concerned had been to see us to assure us that if we were bumped off it would not have been by him, as

A. He had no desire to go to prison

B. He was not at all convinced that The Neighbour’s revolver was untraceable as claimed

and

C. He had made enquiries and six hundred dollars was well under the rate for the job.

Scribble, scribble…….

And then Monty appeared.

The gallant duo rose to their feet as one, clutching clipboards and pens to their persons and they and Monty performed a Benny Hill chase round and round the coffee table, Monty becoming more excited at each turn and finally leaping into the air in his version of a triple Salchow and ambushing them on their side of the table at which point the pair fled to their car and shut themselves in.

Disapppointed, Monty peered through the window and they shrank away. They drove away, seen off at the gates by Monty who had by then taken a dislike to the car which was depriving him of his playmates and was keen to make his feelings known.

Why, I wonder, did I find the words and music of The Bold Gendarmes running through my head…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise Up Like a Lion

leo monolulu 004

Our house in San Jose was burgled in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Our 99 year old neighbour telephoned us and then the police. She has a sense of priorities.

The police in Costa Rica are not an homogeneous force….the grunts on the ground are the Fuerza Publica (the Public Force)…known to our friends as the Fuerza Floja (the Floppy Force) whose role is to arrive on the scene, and make an inspection.
Normally they neither arrive nor make an inspection…there are exceptions of course, but generally they are useless.
Reminds me of our local Gendarmerie in France where someone had hung a notice on the gate to their offices reading ‘Do Not Disturb’.
So the Fuerza Floja didn’t come and didn’t inspect.

My husband answered the telephone and I saw a metamorphosis.
He is a pensioner…has been ill for years…but he rose up like a lion.
No, I was not to go…..it would upset me. He would deal with it.
He is an old fashioned man – very protective.

He called Danilo and they went to the house.
The bars protecting the house had been sawn through – the burglars invisible from the street.
Things thrown about, shit everywhere….the defilement of intrusion.

While Danilo started on repairs, Leo got to work.
He contacted the specialist police, the OIJ (like the CID), who were both efficient and sympathetic.
Every line was followed up…fingerprints, DNA and the Muni’s surveillance cameras which were, of course, not loaded.
So much for our local taxes.

He had the bars replaced and security lights and razor wire installed that very day.
Expats, immigrants, call them what you will tend to moan that you can’t get Costa Ricans to do anything in a hurry – but these chaps came out and set to work at once.
Perhaps it helps that they too use the local taxi drivers’ caff where we go for lunch.
The lady serving at the caff offered to clean the house and came round when she had finished work.
For added security she offered the services of one of her sons as night watchman complete with machete and two pit bulls.
I’ve met his dogs – nice animals unless startled, at which point you need to make a getaway at the speed of light if you don’t want your trousers shredded in unusual places.

He obtained estimates for the major repairs which will be carried out on Monday.

Flushed with his success he stopped off at the market and arrived home laden with vegetables, cheese and bacon, calling for beer.
He was a new man – or more accurately, the man he was before illness struck him.
Smiling, happy, confident.
Yes, the burglary was a nuisance…but not the end of the world.
Nothing he couldn’t deal with.

Leo may not have eaten of the prey and drunk the blood of the slain (Numbers 23:24), much though he would have wished to do so – but I am so proud of him.