Crime in Latin America

Crime in Latin America

San Jose, Costa Rica : The telephone rang; Danilo said, “Hello.”

“This is Bam-Bam. I hear you have lost something.”

“Yes, my car was stolen.”

“If you authorize me, if you authorize me, I will look for it, providing that you pay me a reward of $2,500 if I am successful in finding it.”

Danilo agreed. Three days later Bam-Bam called and told him that his car had been found and that Danilo must bring $2,500 in cash to a specified location. Danilo had two friends, Noel and John, who had recovered their stolen cars after paying a “ransom.” But he was still surprised by Bam-Bam’s audacity when they met:

“Before you pay me, let us inspect the car to make sure there is no damage.”

There was no damage; Danilo handed over the cash.

“Before you go, let me give you some tips on how to protect your car against future theft—although I personally guarantee that your car will not be stolen in the next six months.” Prominent among his tips was the installation of an alarm, which Bam-Bam said could be done at a local shop where, he concluded, “You can tell them Bam-Bam sent you and you will get a 30 percent discount.”

It was true; Danilo got a 30 percent discount.

Bam-Bam, a handsome young man with a ponytail, was finally arrested and given a modest prison sentence. His “business” had soured only because he became such a celebrated figure—to the point of being asked for his autograph on the streets of San José—that the authorities had to act.