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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Monday, April 2, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 66                            Email us
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Jacó Sunday
A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela
Sunday, the first day of Semana Santa, found the beach at Jacó not overly crowded. But more vacationers are coming toward the middle of the week. In Peñas Blancas, the immigration agency
reported that it has opened up new facilities to speed the entrances and departures of vacationers. See our story:

Tax plan covers many services previously untaxed
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Many expats still do not understand the impact of President Laura Chinchilla's tax plan. The draft, if passed, would assess a 14 percent value-added tax on commercial rents, some residential rents and contract services.

Such transactions are not taxed now. These would include the services of an auto mechanic, a Web page designer, a private driver (but not a taxi driver or bus driver), plumbers, electricians, house painters, security guards, personal trainers and even maids and babysitters. The exception would be if the worker were an employee and not a contract laborer.

Many expats hire individuals as contract workers to avoid paying the otherwise obligatory social charges.

Rents other than for homes with an estimated monthly payment under about $1,400 a month would be subject to the tax. The owner would be required to collect the 14 percent value-added levy and remit it to the tax collector.

The only exception in the law is for gardening services. So the contract worker who mows the lawn or cuts the hedges would not have to charge and collect the tax.

Many expat homeowners who contract for household services now would suddenly find themselves obligated to collect the levy and file monthly tax reports.

That lawyers and medical practitioners, such as dentists and physicians, would have to pay the tax has been reported extensively. But the tax also will be assessed on work by accountants, consultants, independent salespeople, residency experts and online service providers who are not taxed now.

Also on the hook for the tax would be artists and craft goods commissioned when the product goes directly to the end user. Any items that pass through a retail outlet would be subject to a 14 percent sales tax, but the artist or artisan would collect and remit 14 percent on the wholesale price. That is why the tax is called value added. Each individual or entity in the product cycle charges the tax on the value they have added to the product.

Some, like barbers and beauticians originate the service, so they collect the entire amount, although they may get a deduction from the tax for the tax they paid to purchase the hair products they use.
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These services would be taxable

The bill promises full employment for cost accountants.

Presumably, expats who work here on contract for foreign firms would be subject to the tax. This would include the legions of software designers, sales representatives and even free-lance writers. As a practical matter, many of these workers would seek to evade the tax, and the Direccíón General de Tributación, the tax collecting agency, would be hard-pressed to track them down and probably would not do so unless the amount were large.

Many expats from the United States work here for foreign firms to take advantage of the U.S. earned income exemption that was $92,900 in 2011.  Many of these workers do not report their income to Costa Rica tax collectors either even though the work was done here. That is becoming harder with the proliferation of international tax treaties.

International call center contracts would be subject to the 14 percent value-added tax according to the draft of the proposed law. Although the workers probably are full-time employees, the firm is offering a service that seems to be subject to the tax. This could represent significant income to the central government. But it may put the firms at a competitive disadvantage compared to similar operations elsewhere offshore.

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

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Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore —

we know how to do it. Experienced with many nationalities. Up-to-date on
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If I Can Learn To Speak Spanish, Anybody Can!

It is very important that as residents of Costa Rica, we at least learn to speak basic Spanish, especially at the bank,supermarket, etc. We at Epifania Spanish School want to help you.  Our teachers are all courteous professionals and will teach you basic Spanish as well as Spanish you 
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 Conveniently located in Curridabat the Spanish Program for Residents consists of two hours per day, two days per week. Regular Price per month is $200. During September, October and November we have a Special Promotion. 2 for1 – Two Students for One Price.
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Our readers opinions
Cable Tica in Guanacaste
reported to be doing well

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

 I have noticed recent letters criticizing Amnet and to a lesser extent Cable Tica for Internet service. In Liberia area I find Cable Tica OK, and I would give it a B.

The service is now available without a separate RACSA account. I have tested the speed, and it was right on. They are subject to the usual drunks and windstorms knocking down the telephone poles and other outages, but they are promptly repaired. Usually the dispatcher can give the reason for the outage to get a sense of how long it will be.

They also suffer from erratic one channel signal outages on TV occasionally. I suspect that is a foreign problem. There are about 10 channels in English, and they don't correspond to the guide published in La Nación. I would give them a C- for overall standard programming.

San José is a different world. I have given ICE's ASDL service to my rural grandchildren and it seems to work reasonably well. Converting to ASDL seems to be a practical solution for anyone that has trouble with cable Internet service. Most likely that would solve the Amnet customer’s Internet problem if he has a fixed telephone. There is a Roku device on the market in the U.S.A., and supposedly here, that streams TV over Internet on demand maybe coming soon, but it is not ready for the market here yet as just a small part of the 300+ channels work. It will require a lot of bandwidth nationally if it becomes popular. Some challenging games work well now with the best remote.
Joseph Lassiter
Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste

Government babysitting
should address other woes

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I just love it that the government is out to protect the health of the public citizens by not allowing smoking in public places. Wonderful.  I guess all the other issues dealing with public health and well being were secretly solved, and I missed it.

According to statistics, more people are killed and harmed by alcohol than smoking, so drinking in public should be banned immediately.  While we are at it, can we ban cell phones since they have been shown to cause a very serious type of brain tumor, and many people have car accidents while talking on cell phones?  Add to the list of bans fluoride in the table salt as fluoride is a serious toxin. 

I suppose we should just sit back and let the government babysit us and make all the decisions for us.  If we believe that this ban was placed to protect citizens, I do believe we deserve what we get.  The government does not want to protect us from anything.  We need to do that for ourselves.

Quaint and casual Costa Rica is becoming just like the rest of the police-controlled world.  It is a sad fact indeed.
I would take a seat by a peaceful smoker over an idiotic drunk any day of the week.

Can I call the police when I have to breathe the filthy air in San José when business requires that I make the trip?  Will the bus driver get a ticket?  I think not. 
Debora Edholm

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 2, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 66
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There's still time to pay annual education and culture tax
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is good news for expats struggling with the education and cultural tax. This pesky tax is levied each year on corporate entities and is due March 31. But March 31 this year was a Saturday, so the tax is payable without penalty today.

That may be easier said than done because there seems to be a lot of confusion at banks about what is required. Expats reported that the bank tellers refused their paper D-110 form. One expat reported that the bank teller gave him a computer disk containing the Ministerio de Hacienda's EDDI program to electronically file taxes. The expat said he does not speak Spanish well and the program was too complex.

The ministry's Dirección General de Tributación said Friday that paper forms are valid as is online payments. An email response from Sammy Segura Saborio of that agency said that Tributación still is accepting the paper form via local banks. The form costs 120 colons, and some have reported difficulty in finding one.

Segura said in response to an accountant, copied to A.M. Costa Rica, that the responsible parties of corporations can make  payments at a bank even without the form.
And the EDDI system is capable of producing a valid form.  Segura also said that the amount may be paid online at a number of banks if an expat has an account.

Despite the explanation, finding a way to pay online has proved difficult for some expats. The tellers' confusion stems from the decision by Tributación to eliminate paper forms for monthly sales tax reports and for the annual income tax report. Banks have declined to accept the paper forms for these transactions since the end of last year.

The EDDI system imprints a readable bar code at the top of the form that identifies the contributor.

The education and cultural tax, itself, tops out at 9,000 colons (about $18) for corporations with a net capital of 2 million colons or greater. That's about $4,000 at the current exchange rate. An inactive corporation that has few assets pays just 750 colons or about $1.50.

Legislators did not choose to eliminate this tax when they drafted a complex package of taxes that is awaiting passage. The proposed law sets up a 14 percent value added tax and extends taxes to services, commercial and some residential rents and contract services.

Northern border crossing
beefed up for holiday flood

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry has opened 12 of some 28 new immigration stations at the Peñas Blancas border crossing with Nicaragua. This is the time of year when vacationers test the ability of the control point. Over the weekend, officials said that agents processed 8,705 persons. Many were Nicaraguans headed home for the holidays. Some 6,990 were persons headed north, said officials.

In addition some 60 extra Fuerza Pública officers were sent to the area.

The border crossing is usually open from 6 a.m. until midnight, but Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the crossing will be closed at 6 p.m., according to the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

The added police presence may have caused the detention of a Nicaraguan man who was headed south over an informal route. The Policía de Fronteras said the man attempted to evade the usual border crossing. They said after they detained the man that he was the subject of an alert by the International Police Agency. He was sought for illegal weapons carrying, they said.

To put more teeth into the border patrols, the Unidad Canina was dispatched there, too, said officials.

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería is an agency in the security ministry.
crossing point
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa
These are some of the new immigration windows.

luggage check
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa
Police officer and his dog check bus passenger luggage.

New legal book designed to help foreigners adjust to country
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats have a new resource to help guide their lives in Costa Rica.

Christopher Howard's book company has produced an electronic summary of the country's laws. It is “Guide to Costa Rica’s Legal System for Tontos (Dumbells).”

Said Howard: “This guide is primarily designed to answer basic legal questions, explain some of Costa Rica’s laws and issues and common situations foreigners may confront and how the legal system works. By no means is it intended to take the place of an attorney.”

Howard is well-known as the expert on Spanish language. He has written books on Costa Rican Spanish and the way the language is spoken in other countries. So,naturally, he has included a section on the translation of legal words
“Basically it was written because I wanted to include the information in the new 17th edition of my perennial bestseller 'The New Golden Door to Retirement and living in Costa Rica,' said Howard. However, since the latter is almost 700 pages long, the book would have been too bulky for travelers at over 850 pages. Consequently, I chose to have a separate guidebook to deal with the subject.” The legal book is 134 pages.

Any reader of A.M. Costa Rica knows the problems that new arrivals and even veteran expats may face in Costa Rica when they do not know the laws, traditions and customs. Howard's book treats those topics, such as residency, buying a car, taxes. Marriage, divorce and alimony, and an outline of the country's legal system.

Many U.S. expats are anxious to purchase property and protect it with a handgun. Howard addresses those topics, too. The book is available as a download on the Costa Rica Books Web site.

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
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mexican artifacts
© 2012 Museum
Oaxaca, AD 1350-1500
© Kimbell Museum/Art
Resource, NY
Rain god AD 1200-1500
© Staatliche Museen
zu Berlin,
   Xantil, Mexico, 1200-1521
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution,
 Puebla, AD 1100-1521

Major exposition opens on Quetzalcoatl and his significance
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Quetzalcoatl, the legendary figure in Mexican civilization, is the central figure of a new exposition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The leader-educator-god also had an influence on the Pacific northwest of Costa Rica that was tied closely to the Mayan and Aztec civilizations.

Quetzalcoatl is best known as the reason why Montezuma did not immediately smash the invading Spanish under Hernán Cortés. The Aztec leader thought the Spanish conquistador was Quetzalcoatl returning, according to the controversial theory advanced by Cortés himself. But the legend is much more than that.

Quetzalcoatl is the feathered serpent, an entity or even a god from well before the major Mexican civilizations of the Maya and later the Aztecs.

The exposition, “Children of the Plumed Serpent: The Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico,” is the first large-scale exploration of the ancient kingdoms of southern Mexico and their patron deity, Quetzalcoatl, the human incarnation of the Plumed Serpent, said the museum. On view from April 1 through July 1 the exhibition features more than two hundred objects, including painted codices, turquoise mosaics, gold, and textiles, from Mexico, Europe, and the United States.
These rare artworks trace the development of an extensive trade network that resulted in a period of cultural innovation that spread across ancient Mexico, the American Southwest, and Central America during the Postclassic and early colonial periods from 900 to 1521 A.D., said the museum.

“This exhibition foregrounds an era of cultural innovation in Mesoamerica when trade networks, closely linked to the deity Quetzalcoatl, facilitated the exchange of both goods and ideas across vast distances,” said Victoria Lyall, associate curator of Latin American art, as quoted in a museum release. “Southern Mexican kingdoms recognized Quetzalcoatl as their founder and patron, and these communities became, and continue to be, the Children of the Plumed Serpent.”
According to the museum:

This exhibition follows the historical trajectory of Quetzalcoatl’s life and explores his role as founder and benefactor of the Nahua-, Mixtec-, and Zapotec-dominated kingdoms of southern Mexico. Legendary accounts provide key insights into the sophistication and complexity of Postclassic-period societies in Mexico.

According to legend, Tollan was founded by Quetzalcoatl, an incarnation of the ancient spirit force of wind and rain that combined the attributes of a serpent with those of the quetzal bird. The Toltec people prospered at Tollan by engaging in long distance commerce until Quetzalcoatl’s rivals schemed against him. Exiled from Tula he traveled east, and the civil strife that ensued led to Tollan’s destruction.

The communities of southern Mexico came to power after the fall of Tula and embraced the deity as their founder and benefactor. Organized into a loose confederacy of royal families, these southern kingdoms developed a highly sophisticated mode of visual communication that was remarkably effective in transcending linguistic and ethnic differences.

For three hundred years the Children of the Plumed Serpent remained the dominant cultural, political, and economic force throughout southern Mexico, until a rival emerged in the Basin of Mexico, the Aztec Empire of the Triple Alliance. These kingdoms, however, successfully resisted Aztec and later Spanish control.

The exhibition will go to the Dallas, Texas, Museum in June and will be there from July 29 to Nov. 25.

The Los Angeles museum notes that the Mexican city of Cholula eventuallly became the center of Quetzalcoatl worship by abut 1200 A.D. That also was the city where Cortés and his allies slaughtered the assembled unarmed priests in 1519.  Cholula is near the Mexican city of Puelba and dominated by the Great Pyramid that is crowned by a Spanish church.

Strongest bite in Animal Kingdom beloings to the crocodiles
By the Stony Brook University news staff
A researcher at a New York university and colleagues at Florida State University and in California and Australia found in a study of all 23 living crocodilian species that crocodiles can kill with the strongest bite force measured for any living animal. The study also revealed that the bite forces of the largest extinct crocodilians exceeded 23,000 pounds, a force two-times greater than the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex. Their data was reported online in PLoS One.

The researcher is Paul M. Gignac, an instructor of research, Department of Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University School of Medicine.
The researchers detail their examination of the bite force and tooth pressure of every species of alligator, crocodile, caiman, and gharial. Led by the project director, Gregory Erickson at Florida State University, the study took more than a decade to complete and required a diverse team of croc handlers and scientists.
“Crocodiles and alligators are the largest, most successful reptile hunters alive today, and our research illustrates one of the key ways they have maintained that crown,” says Gignac.
The team roped 83 adult alligators and crocodiles and placed a force meter between their back teeth and recorded the bite force. They found that gators and crocs have pound-for-pound comparable maximal bite forces, despite different snouts and teeth. Contrary to previous evolutionary thinking, they determined that bite force was correlated with body size but showed surprisingly little correlation with tooth form, diet, jaw shape, or jaw strength.
Gignac emphasizes that the study results suggest that once crocodilians evolved their remarkable capacity for force-generation further adaptive modifications involved changes in body size and the dentition to modify forces and pressures for different diets.
bite test
Stony Brook University photo
Paul M. Gignac works with a 12-foot American alligator.

The findings are unique, to the point that the team has been contacted by editors of the “Guinness Book of World Records” inquiring about the data.
Among living crocodilians, the bite-force champion is a 17-foot saltwater croc, with a force measured at 3,700 pounds.

Real Estate
About us
Jo Stuart
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 2, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 66
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Three tickets are winners
of world's biggest lottery

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The rush to buy tickets for what U.S. officials say is the world's largest lottery jackpot is about to pay off. Mega Millions lottery officials say there were three winning tickets for the record $640 million jackpot sold in three states.

In the hours leading up to the Mega Millions drawing, there was a rush on tickets like lottery officials have never seen.

"Last night, between the hours of, oh, 5 to 10 o'clock, around the country, we were selling Mega Millions tickets at the rate of about $1 million a minute.  Never before have we seen that kind of frenzy," noted Mega Millions lead director Gary Grief.

And then the fateful moment arrived. Lottery officials say three tickets, each worth about $213 million before taxes, have the winning numbers.  One of the winning tickets was sold at a store in Baltimore County, Maryland, 60 kilometers north of Washington.

Most of those buying tickets to the Mega Millions lottery Friday knew their chances of winning were slim.

"It's the idea of a dream," said Lottery ticket buyer Andy Morenstern.  "I think it's just another way of living the American dream.  To have a lottery available here like this is pretty amazing. And everybody thinks that, 'One day if I win the lottery, what will I do with it all?'"

Obama backs Buffet rule
to take the wealthy more

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama says it is time the wealthiest Americans pay what he called their fair share in taxes.

During his weekly address Saturday, Obama urged Congress to vote in favor of the so-called Buffet Rule in a few weeks.

The plan, named for billionaire investor Warren Buffet, would increase taxes on people earning at least $1 million.  Buffet has said it is not fair he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Critics noted that Buffet receives most of his money via passive investment that is taxed lower than earned income.

The president says funding the tax breaks for the wealthy is not fair when middle class families are struggling to pay for necessities.

Former Mexican president dies of respiratory problems

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid, who led the country amid economic meltdown and natural disaster in the 1980s, has died.  He was 77.

The former president died Sunday at a Mexico City hospital where he was admitted several weeks ago for respiratory problems.

Elected president in 1982, de la Madrid launched a massive free-market transformation of the Mexican economy, bringing soaring inflation under control.

But his administration was criticized for its handling of the 8.1 earthquake that struck Mexico City in September 1985, killing at least 9,000 people.  Residents were forced to mount their own relief operations to help the homeless in the face of government inaction, as de la Madrid barred the military from taking part and refused international aid.

Tropical diseases spreading
into countries up north

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new study examines the rising incidence of highly infectious tropical diseases in a number of impoverished communities outside of the tropics and recommends stepped-up surveillance and treatment of infected groups. The researchers focused on south and southwestern U.S. states and Mexico.

“Chagas is an infectious disease transmitted by the kissing bug. The kissing bug looks a little bit like a cockroach but it has the ability to feed on blood and it lives in the very poor quality dwellings,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine in Texas.

He says a serious heart infection caused by the chagas trypanosome parasite now affects a million people in the United States and more than six million in Mexico.

But he and his colleagues believe that the disease is often overlooked. “It is a disease that could be associated with severe heart disease, often times aneurisms, even electrical disturbances and sudden death. So that if someone dies from what often times physicians or health care providers in Texas might think is a heart attack. It’s in fact chagas disease,” Hotez explained.

Researchers say they are trying to understand the full extent of many of the debilitating tropical infections in the region. For example, cysticercosis is now one of the major causes of epilepsy in children in Texas and California. The report notes that another tropical disease, dengue fever, is an emerging problem from Texas to Florida.

“It's called bone break fever. It causes severe pain in the joints and bones and rash - it’s a very severe fever, lasts for seven days and totally lays you out,” said Dan Stinchcomb, a physician who is chief executive officer of Inviragen, which is developing a vaccine against the multiple dengue viruses. "In order for a vaccine to be safe and effective, it has to be able to induce a neutralizing antibody response, an antibody response that will knock out four different viruses simultaneously," he said.

Researchers recommend developing a new generation of diagnostics and drugs to detect and control tropical diseases in the U.S. Hotez says there is also an urgent need to educate public health workers, cardiologists, and obstetricians about the growing incidence of these neglected infections.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 2, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 66
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Jo Stuart

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Latin America news
U.S. citizen in Puerto Viejo
found murdered in cabina

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. citizen is an apparent murder victim near Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean, but investigators are challenged to find a motive.

The man, identified by the last name of Burkth, died early Friday at his cabina in Barrio Pan Dulce, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. He suffered either a knife wound to the neck or a slash with a machete. Informal sources identified him as Jerry Burgett.

Agents said they doubted this was a robbery because most of the man's belongs still were intact. The Judicial police said that his passport and some personal possessions were missing.

The man was said to be about 60 years old and a retiree in the area for about a year.

Agents said that the body of the man was discovered when a friend came to look for him about 10:30 a.m. They said they could not find a weapon.

The victim was reported to have been drinking with friends Thursday night in several local bars.

Two drug boats intercepted
off Cahuita in Caribbean

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A coast guard patrol intercepted two boats, one loaded with suspected cocaine and the other carrying containers of fuel, Saturday morning. The action on the high seas came in the Caribbean about eight nautical miles east of Cahuita.

The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas said that three men, all Colombians, were detained. An estimated 77 kilos of suspected cocaine were confiscated, but a report suggested that the men had dumped quantities of drugs into the sea before their capture.

The two boats were traveling at high speed.

Police and coast guard officials said they were maintaining a patrol so that locals would not try to salvage the drugs that are adrift.

Cell phone tower sites face
thieves seeking batteries

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Forget stealing the copper cable, crooks have found out that cell telephone antenna sites contain lead batteries that are worth $10,000 each.

Thieves stole batteries from at least three towers early Saturday. But the Fuerza Pública was able to detain a vehicle and three suspects in Atenas. Officers also managed to recover 24 of the batteries.

The thieves first sacked a cell tower location in La Garita about 5 a.m. Some 25 minutes later there were break-ins into a tower site in Atenas Central. When they forced their way into a third tower site at Alto del Monte they were confronted by employees of the cell phone company. The crooks claimed to be employees who lost their keys, and then they fled.

They are believed to have entered a fourth tower site in Barrio de Jesús de Atenas, said the Fuerza Pública.

Police managed to make the arrests about 6 p.m. The value of the stolen batteries was estimated at $40,000.

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Real Estate
About us
Jo Stuart
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details