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Losing your car to thieves in Costa Rica is easy, getting it back is another matter.

According to figures by the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), the judicial police was only able to recover 12.8% of the total number of vehicles stolen in 2011 and 2012 and does not have a figure on the how many people were arrested for the crime.

Data released by the OIJ Crime Analysis Unit, shows that during 2011 and 2012, a total of 8.563 complaints for stolen vehicles were filed, while only 1.109 vehicles were recovered.

The figures indicate a total 4.033 vehicles were stolen in 2012, while only 4.650 in 2011, representing an increase of 647 less vehicles stolen over the previous year.

The province with the largest number of stolen vehicles is San José, with the country’s largest city, with 1.783 stolen vehicles in 2011 ad 1.473 in 2012.

In second place is Alajuela, followed by Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas, Cartago and Guancaste, the province with the lowest figures.

The director of the OIJ, Francisco Segura, in the report of “Criminalidad Reportada en Costa Rica 2012” (Reported Crime in Costa Rica 2012), issued by the Office of Plans and Operations, said that the “neglect” is responsible for the largest number of stolen vehicles with 1669 complaints, followed by bajonazos (at gunpoint) with 311 complaints.

The favourites by “car thieves”, according to the OIJ data, are 1992 to 1996 model vehicles, because most don’t have sophisticated security devices and most are used for spare parts.



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The Ten Best Ways To Keep Your Car From Getting Stolen

Well, we all know that the Toyota Prius is one of the most fuel efficient vehicles on the road. Apparently car thieves are not interested in fuel efficiently because, the Prius had the lowest theft rate of any car.

No Car Invincible. By the way, keep this in mind: even the least-stolen used cars get stolen. They are not invincible. You still need to lock your doors and take your keys with you every time you park your vehicle. After all, a lot of stolen cars are crimes of opportunity and not well-planned heists like you might see in “Gone in 60 Seconds.”

10.) Garage It
If you car isn’t on the street, it’s less likely to get stolen.

9.) Keep Your Car in Good Shape
A well-maintained car will deter potential carjackers. If they see that you care about and take care of your car, you’re more likely to have an alarm, more likely to have a way to find it, and more likely to notice it missing.

8.) Have an Alarm Sticker
Just like the “Protected by Brinks” signs in front of houses deter burglars, so do visual signs of a tougher job for a car thief.

7.) Don’t Leave Valuables in Sight
Here’s a scenario: you see Car One with a box of tissues on the floor. In front of that car is Car Two in which an iPod, navigation system, and a watch are strewn about the passenger’s seat. Are you more tempted to break into Car One or Car Two? Pretty simple really — make it seem like there’s nothing in your car worth taking.

6.) Park in a Safe Area or Parking Lot
If you park your car an area with a high crime rate, and presumably a high concentration of criminals, it’s more likely to be taken than when it’s parked in a statistically safer area with good lighting and a neighborhood watch.

5.) The Club
The first step in this system works like #8 — seeing a giant metal bar keeping the steering wheel from moving is a pretty good visual deterrent. And the second step is that you have a giant metal bar keeping the steering wheel from moving. There’s a reason these are pretty popular in urban areas. They are, of course, notoriously easy to defeat, but the idea is to get someone to steal someone else’s car because it’s easier.

4.) Hidden Kill Switches
Usually the greatest challenge for a car thief is getting your car started without the key. To the thief’s advantage, however, is the fact that he knows he’s working with your ignition. But if he also needs to be looking for a connector hidden under the passenger’s seat, he’s that much less likely to get it started. This one doesn’t come cheap, but it may be well worth the investment someday.

3.) Lock the Doors
This one seems so simple, and yet is so often ignored. A thief looking for a car to steal is more likely to go for the vehicle whose owner was kind enough to complete his first step for him, and has given him open access to everything inside.

2.) Take Your Steering Wheel With You (If your vehicle has this installed)
How well do you think you can drive a car without a steering wheel? Exactly. Even if your potential carjacker can get inside and get it started, if you’ve got a quick-release hub and have taken your steering wheel with you, you should be fine. That thief is probably not going anywhere without a way to drive.

1.) Drive a Automatic
Automatic transmissions are a theft deterrent. In Costa Rica, only recently have automatic transmissions begun to appear, the  largest number of vehicles are still stick. Most Costa Rican’s can’t drive an automatic. No, seriously, automatics do not sell well in the market and they are not in great demand for spare parts and thus are not on the top of the list of car thieves.


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