There are many who, after running an errand, shopping or a day at work, find the unpleasant surprise of having had their car broken into.
Usually, the break-ins (tachas in Spanish) are “smash and grab”, the criminals taking anything in sight, and radios ripped from the dash.
Maybe it has never happened to you, but it has to many, including your humble servant.
Vehicle break-ins is one of the main crimes in the country and this is confirmed by the figures of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ).
Between January and October of this year, an average of 430 reports per month were made to the judicial police, all victims of the tacha.
In total, as at November 6, the number of cases filed with the OIJ is more than 4,309. Without a doubt, it is one of the most occurring crimes in the country.
Francisco Velasquez, head of the OIJ Tacha de Vehículos section, explained last August that areas such as Curridabat, Moravia and Desamparados top the list of areas with the most reports; criminals usually hitting on vehicles in shopping centers, supermarkets, bars and restaurants.
Based on the latest numbers compiled from the OIJ figures, the following are the top seven districts with the most reported incidents:
- San Rafael de Alajuela – 146
- San Pedro de Montes de Oca – 137
- Jacó – 105
- Heredia – 95
- San Vicente de Moravia – 95
- Carmen de San José – 88
- Alajuela – 84
The seven most affected cantons:
- San José – 693
- Alajuela – 191
- Heredia – 191
- Montes de Oca – 177
- Desamparados – 155
- Santa Cruz (Guanacaste) – 154
- Cartago – 152
The days that strike criminals (tachadores in Spanish) the most:
In addition, the OIJ figures reveal that most crimes occur between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
According to Velásquez, one of the most vulnerable points in the recent complaints is the La Sabana park and its surroundings, given the park is used by many for sports and other recreational activities during weekends.
In 2016, the OIJ reported 5,072 complaints for car break-ins. If the average continues, this year will close slightly higher over last year.
The concern, as numbers of complaints increase, the OIJ staff dedicated to this type of crime has not increased, meaning the tacha is a crime that mostly goes unsolved, let alone criminal groups or individuals dedicated to the art being caught, even less convicted and sentenced to prison.
“We have about 3 or 4 groups identified. In the last few years, we got 3 firm sentences (convictions), with penalties of more than 15 years,” said Velásquez.
How do you stop – better yet, reduce chances of being a victim of a tacha?
- Never leave your vehicle in an isolated area
- Never leave valuables – or anything you don’t want to lose – in plain sight, like on the front seat. Lock valuables in the trunk
- In shopping centers, pay attention to the security personnel, acknowledge their presence and to them yours
- If your vehicle has an alarm, engage it. If not, consider getting one. It may not spot a tachador from damaging your vehicle, ie a window, but may ward off the grab part of the smash and grab
- Drive an older car, a car that says I am not worth breaking into, I got nothing here worth losing
- Be aware of your surroundings, know where you are. If you have a bad feeling, maybe you shouldn’t be in the area in the first place
- The surest way of not having your car broken into, on a public street, shopping center, etc is never leaving home with it. Take the bus, train, taxi, even an (illegal) Uber. The cost will be much less than the loss and cost of repairs