Garza Beach has a strong community of fisherman who live from fishing and tourism. Photo by Adam Dietrich.
On the morning of Monday, November 19th, Juan Rafael Hernandez Salguera (known as Juan Mora) of Garza received a phone call that his boat was missing. The anchor had been cut.
The boat was later found but stripped of much of its equipment. No communication radio, no compass, and worse of all, one of the motors and the cover of the other motor had been stolen. The motor alone is worth 6 million colones ($12,000) and repairing the cover of the other motor will cost at least another $3000 (1.5 milliones) in order to start fishing again.
What’s worse, this isn’t the first time. Hernandez related that he had another motor stolen a year and a half ago. That time, the loss was between 12 and 13 million colones ($24 to $26,000). At that time, he filed a report with the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (Judicial Police-OIJ), but this time, he didn’t bother, noting that by the time he could get to Nicoya to file a report there would be little chance of recovering the motor. “I don’t waste my time and money going to Nicoya,” he remarked.
Even though there is a guard in the bay, and although they called OIJ and the coast guard, Hernandez feels disillusioned. He explained that people don’t ever see anything, or if they do see something, they don’t care.
This theft isn’t an isolated incident. Last year, VON reported the theft of 5 motors from the Samara area in one night. Also, Jeison Vargas, tourist police chief in Guiones, related that in 2009 there was a case of attempted theft in Garza in which there was someone onboard in bed under deck. The guard was armed, and so were the thieves. Shots were exchanged. Although the thieves left without stealing anything, Vargas commented that this incident shows the potentially violent nature of these thefts.
Most of these thieves are suspected to be from Puntarenas. OIJ Chief Luis Eduardo Jimenez said the stolen motors are generally moved in Puntarenas or Quepos. Jimenez said that the police do have suspects of organized groups dedicated to stealing motors in remote beach areas. However, the thefts occur at night when the boats are anchored and unguarded, and no witnesses are around, making it difficult to investigate, and the thieves modify the motors quickly, making it difficult to locate them afterward.
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