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Taking a taxi in San José can be a dangerous experience. On average two people each month are robbed by a taxi driver.

The Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) – judicial police – say there were 27 reports of robberies by taxis in 2012, 26 were in San José and 1 in Heredia.

According to the OIJ, getting a gun in the face and taken to the closest ATM to empty the bank account is the most common attack on passengers by taxi drivers.

According to, Rubén Vargas head of the Unión de Taxista, there are all types of taxi drivers – good and bad. And it is “complicated” to fire a driver, who is doing more than just driving, without police intervention. The union leader said that all they can do is file a complaint with the ministry of transport of any drivers they suspect of anomalies with the taxi.

Francisco Seguro, director of the OIJ, says it is not difficult to find the attacker, but only if a passenger takes precautions, like calling a family member or friend and telling them the taxi plate number. This is a warning to the driver with other intentions in mind than  taking to your destination.

Other suggestions include:

  • If the person you are calling doesn’t pick up, leave a message
  • If you don’t have anyone to call, pretend to be calling someone and giving them the information
  • Write down – memorize is you don’t have a pen and paper – the pate number of the taxi
  • Be aware of your surroundings, the attitude of the driver, etc. making eye contact as much as possible
  • If the driver strays off route, ask why, and ask to be let off immediately (of course, it may be safer to stay in the taxi if it is the middle of the night and you happen to be in a scuzzy area)

Even you take all the precautions, are vigilant of the situation, it does not mean you won’t be a victim. In such a case, authorities suggest you do not resist.

One method that can help you lose as little as possible is having a second account at the same bank. With this method, you can carry the second account debit card and transfer into it from the main account a small amount or the amount you know you will be spending.

With this method, either during an attack by a taxi driver or any other situation, the amount to withdraw from the account is minimal. OF COURSE, NEEDLES TO SAY, DO NOT CARRY THE PRIMARY ACCOUNT CARD WITH YOU!

With smartphones, mobile internet and online banking, you never really need to have much in the secondary account. If out shopping, you can load the card just before making the purchase and with the required amount.

For example, you are looking to buy an expensive flat screen television. Rather than loading the secondary card with a large amount and going about your life with it, you can load it if and only when you actually are ready to buy.

Of course, in the foregoing example, your bank account may be safe, but not your flat screen television if you happen to get into the wrong taxi.


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