Caution in trusting Ticos

Below is an AM Costa Rica article about yet another gringo who was killed for money by Ticos/Nicos  who were alerted to a possible easy payday by someone who worked for the  gringo.   This has to be at least the 6th version of a familiar story all ending in the gringos ( including canadians my polite friends ) being killed in an attempted robbery / kidnapping. 

The story is always the same, some trusting gringo employs some ticas/ticos, one of which turns out to be a greedy psychopath who is less concerned about killing an innocent gringo  then the money they might make by setting him up for a robbery/kidnapping.   The word of caution needs to be advertised in every blog on this site, that concerns gringos living here in CR. 

Don't get me wrong.!!   I love ticos and I love CR.   I date ticas exclusively, i have a number of tico friends and I have never been set up or threatened in any way by a tico.   My experience is just the opposite.  I have found them to be warm, friendly, courteous people.  I love them.  But I have been lucky and I have been lucky making choices where to live and how to do business.   BUT, some gringos move down here and don't make smart choices.  Anyone who moves here had better move to a neighborhood or gated community with 24 hour security.  And if you move to a beach, where it is more remote it is probably the most dangerous decision one can make outside of a few very bad neighborhoods here in the Greater metro San Jose area.  Everyone I know who has been robbed or burglarized has been in a house w/o 24 hour security.  Everyone I have read about who has been murdered for money trusted someone they thought was trustworthy. 

So please be careful out there.  Be aware.   Be skeptical of who you are trusting.  Make them prove they are completely trustworthy before you place trust in them.   The violence is random and not usual.   But bad actors are out there and they are usually tipped off by a woman who works for a gringo and sees an opportunity to make big money fast.   Read this article below.   It will hopefully open some eyes of those moving down here.


Seven suspects arrested for murder of U.S. citizen






By A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials of the Judicial Investigation Organization conducted seven raids in the cities of Guanacaste and San José, capturing seven suspects for the murder the U.S. citizen named Barry Martin Lawson, known as Barry Lawson, age 74.



Two of the raids were in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste and the other four raids were in Paso Ancho, Hatillo, and Aserri in San José.

According to Walter Espinoza, General Director of the judicial investigators, the people captured were:

-A woman surnamed Merlo, who was Lawson's domestic employee and is the key player in the investigation. “She had knowledge of the goods that were kept in the safe. It is presumed she got in touch with a close friend surnamed Cabrera.” Investigators state that Merlo and Cabrera then planned the assault with the help of three brothers, surnamed Renderos. The final plan was then made. At the time of the assault and Lawson’s death, Merlo was still working in his home.

-Three men named Renderos-Sanchez are brothers, all of whom had police records for various crimes including weapons possession and drug trafficking.  “The three Renderos brothers went inside the house. They took advantage of the fact that Mr. Lawson was alone with his wife and they started the assault to get the money and goods of the house.” When Mr. Lawson refused to give the men the code for the safe, the men began beating him.  “After the attack, these three subjects managed to obtain the $32,000 , the goods of the house, jewelry and the two cell phones of the victims.”

-A man named Renderos- Bolaños who is the father of the three brothers. Renderos- Bolaños, age 47, is the father of the three men who assaulted Mr. Lawson. The report states that he assisted with the disposition or division of the goods, helped decide what should be hidden and advised the other men.

-A man surnamed Cabrera who is Merlo’s close friend and part of the criminal organization. Cabrera has a criminal record for fraud and theft. It is alleged that he “had a very close relationship with Merlo, and between these two created the plan of the assault and contacted the brothers.”

-A man surnamed Gonzalez is the driver who is alleged to have taken the brothers to Lawson’s home in Tamarindo and waited until the crimes were committed so he could take the brothers back to San José. 

According to the thesis of the investigation,  Merlo was in a position of trust in the Lawson home. She knew that there was a safe with cash and jewelry and that there were other valuable goods in the house.




Barry110118.jpg
A.M. Costa Rica archive photo

Lawson died as a result of the blows to the head
he received during the beating.

The money in the safe at that time was the result of a donation campaign that the Lawsons had put together for aid programs aimed at low-income students.

Lawson and his wife were well known in the area for their foundation, Friends of Education, which they had operated since 2000.  In addition, the couple owned a small hotel.



The allegation states that on April 1, 2015 at 7:00 p.m., the three brothers invaded the house, and tied up Mr. and Mrs. Lawson using cables and a belt. They threatened the elderly couple with knives asking for the money. At first, Lawson refused to give them the code for the safe so the men beat him until he complied. 

They stole the money, two cell phones, a computer, an iPad and jewelry.

 When they left the house, they beat the injured man one more time, leaving him gravely injured, with a severe cranial trauma. On April 7, Lawson died in a private hospital in San José, as a result of the blows to the head he received during the beating.

The three men then left the scene in a vehicle driven by Gonzalez.

Shortly after the crime was committed, Merlo left Mrs. Lawson’s employment.

The accusation alleges that Renderos- Bolaños then gave the men how to hide the money and stolen property until it could be properly divided.

I love CR but I am tired of so many cunning ticos, can't trust them anymore. I think they first lure you in with their politeness and good intentions to later backstab you.  It has been my experience with four of them. No more, I will rather be alone.

I have been here for almost 14 years and, frankly, have had less problems with dishonest and cunning people here than I did in the U.S.  There will always be rotten eggs, no matter the culture and I don't think it is fair to judge an entire culture on some unfortunate experiences.  Have I been treated badly by some?  Of course!  Dealing with dishonest people is part of the human condition, I believe.  But, I have had hundreds upon hundreds more positive experiences than the (isolated) few bad ones.  And, as mentioned by Sporto505, this happened because I did not check the people out.  Now I have some wonderful  Tico friends, a couple, who I would trust with my life and I don't make many decisions without consulting them first.  This is the ticket, find someone you trust and trust their judgement rather than your own.  I would do the same thing in the U.S.  No need to be alone, MauroN, life is too short to live in isolation....especially in such a beautiful place!  God bless.

I second Sallyrose's post.  I was burgled twice in seven years in rural Alberta.  Four years here and not an incident.

I don't trust anybody in CR anymore.   My wife and I are leaving immediately.  It's not worth it.

sporto505 :

Below is an AM Costa Rica article about yet another gringo who was killed for money by Ticos/Nicos  who were alerted to a possible easy payday by someone who worked for the  gringo.   This has to be at least the 6th version of a familiar story all ending in the gringos ( including canadians my polite friends ) being killed in an attempted robbery / kidnapping. 

The story is always the same, some trusting gringo employs some ticas/ticos, one of which turns out to be a greedy psychopath who is less concerned about killing an innocent gringo  then the money they might make by setting him up for a robbery/kidnapping.   The word of caution needs to be advertised in every blog on this site, that concerns gringos living here in CR. 

Don't get me wrong.!!   I love ticos and I love CR.   I date ticas exclusively, i have a number of tico friends and I have never been set up or threatened in any way by a tico.   My experience is just the opposite.  I have found them to be warm, friendly, courteous people.  I love them.  But I have been lucky and I have been lucky making choices where to live and how to do business.   BUT, some gringos move down here and don't make smart choices.  Anyone who moves here had better move to a neighborhood or gated community with 24 hour security.  And if you move to a beach, where it is more remote it is probably the most dangerous decision one can make outside of a few very bad neighborhoods here in the Greater metro San Jose area.  Everyone I know who has been robbed or burglarized has been in a house w/o 24 hour security.  Everyone I have read about who has been murdered for money trusted someone they thought was trustworthy. 

So please be careful out there.  Be aware.   Be skeptical of who you are trusting.  Make them prove they are completely trustworthy before you place trust in them.   The violence is random and not usual.   But bad actors are out there and they are usually tipped off by a woman who works for a gringo and sees an opportunity to make big money fast.   Read this article below.   It will hopefully open some eyes of those moving down here.
[edited for brevity here; see original post at top for further info]

Sporto, I agree people should be careful in trusting Ticos - also careful in trusting Americans, Canadians, etc. There are bad apples in all cultures and countries.

I think it's good to remind people to be cautious in trusting others.

Costa Rica, largely due to its helpful and kind people, has developed a reputation in the media and online as having "the nicest people in the world" or other such proclamations.

Perhaps because of this - partially true -  "image", people move here and think they've arrived in a place where there are no bad people.

But this is not the case. Not the case for people who arrive in ANY country in this world!

So let me go through your post and point out the real problem. The problem isn't so much that there are some bad apples here, as in any country. The problem is there are some stupid or foolish people who move here and that foolishness causes them to get robbed or killed (which by the way happens much more rarely here, in terms of the % of population,  than in the USA).

First of all what kind of fool tells someone else they have $32,000. in a safe in their home????

Sorry the man was killed as a result of this mistake, but I mean, come on, it was completely foolish for him to tell someone he has the equivalent of a Tico's yearly income for 2 years or more in his house. That's like telling an American who makes $75,000 a year that you have $150,000 in your house.

Who would you tell in the USA that you have $150,000 in a safe in your home?
NO ONE, if you're smart.

Secondly, everyone should know by now, if you are robbed and the thief asks you for your money, or key to your safe, you give it to them. If you don't you may get killed or at least hurt very badly. It's just not smart to refuse to give a guy the key or combination to your safe when he's standing there threatening your life. You see here what can happen.

So I feel sad for the guy and his family and I regret this happened to him. But he was foolish in 2 major decisions (to store so much money at his home; and to not give the thief the safe combination before he was beaten).

I know plenty of people who trust Ticos. I have a Tico friend I would trust with my life or anything in my life. That said, I would not tell  him (nor my gringo friends!) that I had $32,000 in my house! He might mention it by mistake to someone else who is not trustworthy. There is some stuff you just should keep to yourself if you value your life.

I recently read another story in a paper or web page about a gringo who was killed in Costa Rica. The article did not give too many details but it did mention he was going with Ticas (I think they were prostitutes, I can't remember) and invited one he really didn't know, to his fancy gringo home. Long story short, he was robbed and killed by her and/or some friends of her's.

My advice is:

A) Never store thousands of dollars in your home.
B) IF you do, do not tell ANYone other than a trusted family member (wife, sister, etc). so they can come get it in the case of your death.
C) Get to know people well for a couple years before trusting them with your house or keys or information that may hurt you if they tell someone.
D) Avoid associating with prostitutes or hard drug users or other criminal elements (I know prostitution is not a crime here but...)


This is all just common sense. But what I have noted is that some people come here to Costa Rica and throw their common sense right out the window.
Not a good idea. Here nor anywhere in the world.

After living here almost 30 years and meeting /knowing hundreds of Ticas and ZTicos I have formed maybe TWO Ticas more aquaintences than friends , yet my USA, Canadian and European friends I have had for 40 plus years) I almost trust  her until until the  watch and a few other things disappeared......one is/was working for me and my watch went missing..I married a Tico (who was raised like a Gringo in USA from age 6 months.so very  different mentality... and warned me not to create my own monsters by GIVING Giving..even when on a budget..He told me "They" his people..have a cunning way of luring in foreigners with phony charm,  and when the giving has to stop then you are a BAD person..TRUE! so some newbie Gringos have to learn this. have yet to learn.  and my ex (is an ex cos he could not stand to live in a place where he paid his employees to rob him in his office as he was trusting enough to THINK he could leave his bulky wallet (  filled mostly mostly with papers) on his desk when he went to the bathroom.
He often asked me if I had taken any cash for bills or ? and of course not...

He decides to install a camera and watched in disbelief as certain employees took turns in... get this,,,REMOVING from his wallet 1 or 2 20,000 bills and replacing them with 5,000 bills ..pretty sneaky eh?

WELL THE christmas baskets I gave to neighbors ,even those I did not know...had to stop due to expense of flying to England for Cancer treatment as back then the Rad machines broke down...Anyway
it was CHRISTMAS TIME SO I HAD TO LEAVE MY EX ALONE TO TAKE CARE OF GUESTS 6 DOGS CHICKENS ETC FOR 6 MONTHS WHILE I WAS IN HOSPITAL IN ENGLAND
EVERYONE ON THE STREET KNOW I WAS PRACTICALLY DYING YET NOT ONE GUY ASKED MY ES IF THEY COULD LEND A HAND EVEN IF PAID TO FEED THE PETS NOR OFFERED EVEN A CHEAP TOMALE..oops caps when I think back on it,,,Anyway they did ALL continually ring the doorbell asking no demanding to know WHERE their Christmas  baskets were?  and when  i returned and could no longer aford them i was labeled a BAD PERSON thats when i began to realize that what the Gringo who sold me the farm said about lack of loyalty was TRUE..no
i did not only judge the neighbors but met hundreds of locals who all turned out the same..invite them in for coffee and later discover something sentimental was missing.sometimes the coffee cup which made up a matching set..so infuriating..most think we are too dumb to notice. .and we are not talking of
poor people few of them work out of choice..their husbands work...
i live in an affluent area...so there you are he is right hey give you all the charm and BS you need to your face,,then back stab or are   petty ..
i stopped hiring them as maids and had for years loyal trustworthy Nicas..but latelt after hey live here a while become he same  they learn fast.i don"t like leaning when i am retired but ratherbthatb than find out the gal who did my last wash helped herself to one or two of my favorite sweatrs,,they have good taste .always the best go missing...so I used to wonder how they got them pff the farm with a long driveway until a gust told me to go check the garbage basket outside the gate..perfect spot they just put the things in a bag and pick them from the basket when they leave so true i love living here especially for the weather but do get furious to find things missing weeks after they have been taken..s yes BEWARE or stay with them as they clean a drag for sure... and yes you can paint most ith the same brush as most other Nationalities are painted....
so to all the as we once were Naive newbies..
'"just you wait Henry Higgins ..just you wait
'
'  lots of good reasons to live here but that is not one of them...

\

\

IIt is a pity when some of us throw in the towel and leave  the reasons we are here for ..the tranquility, WEATHER etc..sorry to hear that Wizz ,,,but do understand and TRUE .  NEVER tell anyone you have cash in your house .    or do what I do and USE banks and NEVER keep cash in the house..
.LEARN newbies LEARN but then I never was a dumbie and still can"t trust EMPLOYEES especially so don"t have them ..but...or watch them like hawks and do what Tico employers do and Search their bags as they leave (I never can do that but d WALK them to the gate past the trash basket when possible...their favorite "Stash place"

Thank you for the information.

I am sure Pebs is telling the truth of her own experience.
But my experience is that the Ticos I've gotten to know are super loyal and trustworthy. Good people.

But of course there are bad people in any country so you can't just think that all Ticos are wonderful, trustworthy people. It's true that some are nice to your face but will then screw you. It happens, but in my experience it's not that common. Only once has a Tico screwed me out of money but luckily it wasn't much at all. As a result of screwing me he lost standing in the community and stopped offering his services.  ;)

I knock on wood as I say this, because I don't want to "jinx it" but I've not had anything stolen here. BUT then I only really have one person working in and around my house. And I have a security system to scare would-be robbers off. And I don't live in a "gated gringo community" which is like painting a target on your home, imho.

Think about it: you're a robber and you want to hit a place for a big haul: where are you gonna go for your breaking and entry? (A gringo community or a rich gringo house off by itself and easy to access; neither of which describes my properties.)

There are bad people everywhere you go in this world including the town you just left in the U.S. or Canada.Here is one story I would like to share with the readers of expat.When I first moved here in 2001 I bought a country place near the beach.I kinda felt I was being watched,new gringo in town and all.I was armed,but the security system wasn't installed yet.We went out for pizza one night,and when we came home someone had sawed off the iron bars out back and broke in.We literally interrupted the thief in the middle of the burglary, and I chased him off with a few gunshots.Word got out pretty quick at what happend (it's a small pueblo)and the next day a fellow in his mid 40's arrives at my front gate with a teenager being forced along by his ear.The teenager turned out to be the burglar,and the other fellow was his dad.The young man apologized and the father paid for the damage the son caused to my home.Truth is there are alot of thieves here but there are alot of nice hard working people too.

We also had neighbors who turned in the 'robber' at our house. He was visiting family in our pueblo and the neighbors were very quick to tell him, that what he done, was not acceptable. Next day, he took all items to the police station.

I don't live in CR but this seems pretty basic to me. If you are much wealthier than those around you, then many of them are likely to feel that it is OK to take from you....kinda like those who shoplift.

As far as keeping money in the safe/house. Although I would never tell anyone, I would keep a grand available just in case I was ever robbed.....would much rather loose a thousand dollars than some teeth or worse.

bottlefed :

I don't live in CR but this seems pretty basic to me. If you are much wealthier than those around you, then many of them are likely to feel that it is OK to take from you....kinda like those who shoplift.

As far as keeping money in the safe/house. Although I would never tell anyone, I would keep a grand available just in case I was ever robbed.....would much rather loose a thousand dollars than some teeth or worse.

Good idea perhaps if you DO keep it absolutely secret and well hidden... and If you have that kind of money to "sock away". Many do not.

I think perhaps even $400 might do the trick though...

Sadly another crime victim, seems like Nica's are being implicated in a lot of these crimes,


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