Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bocas del Toro, Panamá home invasion

From an ExPat internet group:

Bocas del Toro home invasion:

I must report that we have had our first home invasion here on Isla Carenero. It happened last Saturday night at about 7:00PM at Ron and Joan Bergmans just passed the Cosmic Crab. Three masked men quietly came in through an unlocked door forcing Joan to be quiet in the living room. Ron was lying in bed when he was attacked with the robbers using clubs. He was struck on the head and as he was trying to protect himself struck several times on his wrist. They only took an Iphone and escaped – they left his bill fold in full view and other electronic devices sitting around. After getting composed, they called the neighbors for help and I called the policia. The response was within 5-10 minutes of calling which I think is very good. The policia were quick to determine what had happened and checked the area and did a quick examination of the house. A major concern was the injuries Ron and Joan had sustained. After a quick lock down, they were transported to the ER at the hospital. Ron had about 8 stitches in his scalp and had a wrist x-ray. He had a fractured wrist that required surgery, so they then went to the hospital in Changuinola. He had surgery on his wrist the next morning by their orthopedic surgeon and was checked for a concussion. With a lot of bruises, very tired, wrist in a cast, but in good shape otherwise – they returned home Monday afternoon. In summary, this was a horrible happening and has disturbed everyone. The policia response was as good as could be expected any where – particularly from one island to another. A member of the JID accompanied the policia and will personally handle the case. The response at ER was also very fast and effective. Changuinola was expecting them and took Ron in immediately. The Vasques’s are following the model of their mother, Joann, with Virginia going over to Changuinola with them. Joan was installed in Virginia ’s brother’s house, the head of Chiquita in Panama , while Ron was in the hospital. Our neighborhood watch held a meeting on Monday morning with Sgt. Sanchez and three other policia, including the JID who will be in charge of the investigation. We reviewed all that had happened and Sgt. Sanchez presented what the policia and the JID would be doing next. It is going to be a difficult case, but they are already beating the bushes for leads. As Bocas is getting more tourists and those celebrating the holidays from the adjacent areas, suggests that this was not done by locals. The lack of picking up valuables laying around suggests this was done by amateurs. However, they must have known the Bergmans schedules that could only have been acquired by observation over a period of time. What can we do then to protect ourselves? First, be reluctant to have your doors unlocked – make sure they are locked after dark. Have a dog - a barking dog is a good deterrent. Have a phone list of all neighbors and emergency numbers right by the phone. Pepper or wasp sprays might yield some protection. A loud horn or other high sound device could be used to alert the neighborhood. Of course, we have to be alert and watch for abnormal behavior – particularly someone who shows a lot of interest in what you are doing. There is no question that this case has a very high priority and a lot of policia time will be devoted to the solution. The case has strong political support as well – Bocas can not sustain this barrier to growth in tourism.

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