Diario Extra – Public institutions could be susceptible to weapons theft

Diario Extra – Public institutions could be susceptible to weapons theft
Diario Extra – Public institutions could be susceptible to weapons theft

Mario Arias, an expert in organized crime and anti-corruption, says that analysis of firearms theft reveals an alarming trend in institutional security where criminals do not fear being arrested or facing an exchange of gunfire.

“The National Police Academy was the victim of the theft of 26 weapons a few years ago, which highlights a significant vulnerability in the internal security of institutions. Overconfidence often plays a bad trick, as these criminals take advantage, in many cases, of the lack of training, whether on the part of the companies that often provide security to the facilities. This incident reflects the urgent need to improve protocols and supervision in such entities,” he said.

In a more recent case that occurred on June 29 at the Courts of Justice in Puntarenas, two private officers who were guarding the premises were surprised by criminals.

According to reports, the guards were patrolling the vicinity of the building when two men allegedly threatened them with knives and firearms. After immobilizing them, they took away their service weapons and bulletproof vests.

“These security guards from a company subcontracted by the Judiciary were on patrol and were approached by two individuals who, apparently, had threatened them with knives and firearms and, when they were powerless, they took their service weapons and bulletproof vests,” reported the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ).

Another incident recorded this year was when two armed men attacked the security booth of the National Bank of San Pedro, Montes de Oca, in May. They beat the officer and stole five firearms.

“This event not only highlights the audacity of criminals, but also the possible deficiencies in banking security measures. Insecurity continues at alarming levels, these stolen weapons are used to commit homicides and assaults, increasing violence in our communities,” added Arias.

He also indicated that it is estimated that 80% of homicides are committed with firearms, highlighting the seriousness of the problem. The proliferation of illegal weapons on the streets is a critical challenge that requires urgent attention and effective measures to improve citizen security.

ASSAULTS AND ROBBERIES

Robberies and assaults are two of the most frequently reported crimes at a national level. These are committed against people, homes, property, vehicles, and justice institutions.

According to data published on the OIJ website, as of July 1, 2024, the province of Puntarenas registered 379 assaults and 313 robberies, with the central canton of Puntarenas being the most affected, followed by Garabito, Quepos and Osa.

The total number of both is 692 crimes, 122 have been committed against buildings, 289 against people and 174 against homes, with May having the highest number of cases and February the second.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The expert also issued a series of recommendations that could improve the protocols in these entities, including training, which would be an essential pillar.

“Training is crucial to ensure that security personnel are prepared to deal with any situation that may arise. Without adequate training, officers may lack the skills necessary to manage crises and respond to emergencies effectively. Regular training is vital, providing ongoing training to officers in self-defense techniques, crisis management, and emergency procedures. This training should be practical and tailored to current threats.

Drills and exercises, conducting regular drills of emergency situations prepares staff for possible incidents of theft or attack, these exercises help to identify areas for improvement and ensure a rapid and coordinated response. Threat awareness, implementing awareness programs is essential to inform staff about common tactics used by criminals and how to respond effectively,” he explained.

He also added that training in threat identification and rapid decision-making can make a difference in critical situations, as well as operational and custody protocols, an area that, according to the specialist, needs to be improved because they are often not followed or do not even exist, which can lead to serious vulnerabilities. To mitigate these risks, it is necessary to implement and maintain rigorous protocols.

“Some key steps include: Review and update protocols: It is imperative to regularly review and update protocols and emergency procedures to ensure they are effective and fit for new threats. Outdated protocols can leave gaps, which criminals could exploit.

Inspections and audits: Conducting regular inspections and audits helps to identify and correct vulnerabilities. These audits should be comprehensive and cover all aspects of operational security. Weapons registration and monitoring: Maintaining detailed and up-to-date records of all weapons, as well as their location and status, is essential. Implementing a monitoring system to track any movement or use of weapons: ensures that weapons are not misused or fall into the wrong hands.

In conclusion, both ongoing training and the implementation and compliance with operational protocols are essential to maintaining a high level of security. The lack of any of these elements can compromise the integrity and effectiveness of staff, putting everyone involved at risk,” he concluded.

 
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