Fulvio Fernández, the national coordinator of Tourist Police (Policía Turística), warn drivers (and the population in general) that we could be on the verge of the return of the “pinchonazo” scam.

Image from Travelscamming.com/

According to Fernandez, last Monday several people alerted police about a supposed problem with the tires of their vehicles while traveling from La Sabana to Rohrmoser, a trip of one kilometer.

An audio that circulated in different social networks described the “pinchonazo” – a method where a tire is punctured by criminals, who then wait for the driver to get out of the car to check the flat tire.

“It began to show up into the year 2000 when tourists were victims of robberies as they got out of their rental cars to check a flat tire. The assailants took advantage and robbed them of their belongings, some even stole the car,” said the police chief.

So far there have been no formal complaints explained chief Fernández, but the call is for people to pay attention and avoid becoming a victim.

Authorities recommend that if you suspect a flat tire, look for a nearby shopping center or other public place to pull into or flag down a police patrol. The most important thing is to stay inside the car until it safe to get out.

The areas targeted in the past was the area of the Manolos (the Recope intersection on the Ruta 1 to the old road to Jaco), the General Cañas typically around the Cariari to the Bridgestone where many of the car rental companies and hotels are located and the area surrounding the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) airport.

According to Fernández, the attempts in the La Sabana/Rohrmoser are believed to have occurred at night, but due to lack of any formal complaints, they have not yet established a  pattern.

General recommendations for tourists:

  • NEVER pull over, continue driving.
  • Find the nearest gas station, shopping center, building or a place with a security guard or lot of people before pulling over.
  • Do not accept help to change your tire, change the tire yourself. Hence, make sure you know how to change a tire and know where the spare tire and jack is. Most rental companies will point this out to you.
  • In a rental car and don’t know how to change a tire, call them to change it. Depending on your coverage, it may be included in your rental. Ask before, ask.
  • If you do change the tire yourself, keep an eye on your surroundings and your belongings.

If you are not a tourist and are living in Costa Rica, you already know all of this. If you don’t, now is a good time to learn.