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Wednesday, July 30 2014 @ 09:08 AM EDT

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
American Couple Brutally Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Authored by: susangg on Sunday, July 08 2012 @ 03:56 PM EDT

This incident appears to be a serious escalation in what has been an increasing crime wave in the Bocas islands. Almost every day, there is a new burglary or robbery, and only on a rare occasion is anyone arrested. In some cases, the criminal is identified, but the police either decline to make an arrest (even though the victim has provided all cooperation, including making a police report and duly providing all information about the stolen property), or when they do make an arrest, the accused is released the next day (and no, they are not all juveniles).
It is widely believed that certain known criminals are being given a "get out of jail free" card because they have relatives employed by one or more police agencies. It is also widely believed that at least one known "fence" in Almirante is under some sort of "protection" by elements within law enforcement, since his place of business is never subject to searches or "sting" operations even though victims have reportedly identified stolen property there.
These allegations and/or beliefs may be true, or they may be totally untrue. In order to determine this, an outside agency needs to be brought in to undertake an investigation of why the police are, except in a very tiny minority of cases, unable to solve crimes, catch the criminals, arrest the criminals or keep them in jail.
What is known is that the response to property crime is either non existent or extremely weak. When police are called to a crime scene, they don't show up, or they show up the next day. A frequent excuse is "we did not have any gas in our boat." Isn't it the responsibility of the police to ensure, in advance, that they have the ability to respond promptly when called to a crime scene? The rest of us know that we have to have gas in our boats. Why are the police not aware of that? When stolen property is returned, it is more often due to "detective work" by the victim or his friends and the issuance of a cash reward for turning in the criminal, than by police work.
It is widely believed in the islands, particularly by the expat community, that police agencies have either been instructed by higher authority or alternatively, have chosen, to place top priority on issuing revenue-generating traffic citations, rather than placing top priority on investigating and solving crimes. Given the small number of police officers assigned to Bocas, why are there so many of them sitting on the road, doing drivers license, registration, and sobriety checks? This is not to say that those things should not be the subject of law enforcement activity, but they should be at the bottom of the priority pole, not the top.
A couple of years ago, a crime wave in one part of the islands resulted not in a crackdown on criminals, but rather, on a series of "raids" on homes of expats, all of whom were "raided" within a week of reporting a robbery. (The excuse for the raids was that the crime victims were "suspected" of having drugs and/or guns.) Shortly after that, a known criminal who had been arrested for several of the robberies was released. He is still free.
Now, we are seeing an increasing number of violent crimes, involving criminals using guns. A few weeks ago, there were two armed robberies of tourists, on popular beaches frequented by tourists, Red Frog Beach and Wizard Beach. Two women had their purses taken at gunpoint, and one was chased into a resort (one can only imagine what might have happened had she been caught by the criminal before she reached the safety of the resort.)
This incident, involving the marine equivalent of a "home invasion" in which a couple was terrorized for two hours in the middle of the night by armed gunmen who occupied their boat, is an even greater escalation in the crime wave. It has been reported that the female member of the couple was sexually assaulted.
It would be unfair to blame law enforcement for the fact that criminals commit crimes. However, it is fair to blame law enforcement when the response to a crime is not satisfactory. The police may not be able to "protect" you from crime, but they should be prepared to immediately respond when there is a crime.
I have personally met several police officers in the islands. They all seem like nice guys (and gals), and are unfailingly pleasant, polite, and charming. And I'm sure that the majority of them are honest and want to do the best job they can. But for whatever reason, the law enforcement agencies on the job in the Bocas islands are not performing in a satisfactory manner...and that can only encourage criminals to continue their course of conduct. Perhaps this horrific incident will result in a decision by the powers that be to fix the problem.
Now would be good.