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Getting Things Done in Costa Rica

Many of my clients often ask, why is getting things done in Costa Rica so difficult? I could really be negative here with a response, however, understanding the problem is a better alternative. During this discussion keep in mind that Costa Rica is a third world country. That is difficult to understand when you see a Starbucks or a PF Chang’s. But it is true , Costa Rica is a third world country with its biggest employer being the government itself. That within itself is a big reason that getting things done is Costa Rica is so slow.

What makes getting things done in Costa Rica so difficult?

It only takes a few minutes to see Costa Rica’s problem by traveling on its roads. A trip from the airport to downtown can take up to hour or more. It is obvious that Costa Rica has lost control of its roadways and does not have the infrastructure to correct the traffic problem they have.

The reason I chose the road as a sedge way into this discussion is that it is a prime example of the problem this country faces in getting things done. This same inability to get control of the road permeates the entire government here. The simplest of task can take an extraordinary amount of time to complete.

Example of getting things done in Costa Rica

Let me give you an example, you want to find the owner of a piece of property. In the states, it a relatively easy task as one goes to the property a[[raiser or the county tax office and within 10 minutes you have all the information you need. Here, you have to go to the National Registry of Costa Rica and make a request. You do this by taking a number and wait for the clerk to call your number. Once they call your number, they will check and see if they have the record requested. If they do have the requested record, they will direct you to the Bank of Costa Rica, where you will take another number and wait to be called to pay the fee to get the record.

With the bank receipt in hand you return to the Registry at which point you take another number and wait to be called. Once called they will give you the requested record. This process can take anywhere from four to eight hours.If the record is archived, it can take up to two weeks to get the information requested.

Once the property has been identified, determining the owner is the next obstacle that has to be overcome. If the property is owned by anyone other than A Costa Rica National, it will be in the form of a S.A. (Sociedad Anonomia) which is liken to a Nevada Corporation in the States, where the individual owner is not listed. For years, the Cossta Rica Government has required this as a vehicle to purchase real property. Thereby promoting and fostering all manner of corrupt activities.

If you want something done and done as quickly as possible, you need to retain professionals who are here and know the system and how it works. Even with such help it can take time as nothing seems to move here with speed, everything is, manana . If you choose to do it your self, remember that getting things done in Costa Rica is time consuming and slow. It will try your patience and your wallet.

Hiring a Costa Rica Private Investigator

Before hiring a Costa Rica private investigator

Hiring a Costa Rica private investigator does not have to be a stressful or difficult process.  Before hiring a Costa Rica private investigator, use these simple steps as a guideline for locating the right Costa Rica private investigator for your case. Today, it is easy to be misled, especially since the proliferation of third-party lead generators. These lead generators are not present in Costa Rica and do not disclose the consequences of using people that cannot meet your needs. This is especially true in the event your case goes to trial.

Licensing

There is no national licensing system for private investigators in Costa Rica. No one in Costa Rica has a license to do investigations.  Unlike the United States where PI licensing is regulated on the state level. If the actual investigator does not possess a license issued by a state, then that tells you that this person is unqualified to do investigative work.

Currently, the only states that do not require private investigators to be licensed are: Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota, & Wyoming

Always contact the appropriate state licensing agency to confirm an investigator’s license is current and in good standing prior to hiring them.

PI Firms vs. Individuals

One key choice in hiring a Costa Rica Private Investigator is whether to hire an individual or an investigative firm. Firms typically employ greater resources and are ideal for cases requiring large amounts of surveillance and manpower. Individual PI’s can often provide a wealth of knowledge with issues including the location of persons, background investigations, asset investigations etc.

Be sure to choose an investigator or firm that employs the necessary resources and prior experience to properly address your needs.

Hiring a Private Investigator

It is important to feel comfortable with the PI you choose as matters that require private investigation cases are often of a sensitive nature. Look for individuals who are able to think “outside of the box” and adapt to changing situations easily. Inquire as to signing a contract or agreement listing the private investigator’s services, fees, and terms. Make sure this agreement comes from the person or firm who is physically present in Costa Rica and is actually doing the investigation. This protects both parties.

Be sure to ask a potential investigator as many questions as possible. If your not comfortable with their answers, demeanor, or experience you should find another private investigator with who you are.

Questions to Ask Your Investigator

How long have you been in business?

How many cases of this nature have you handled?

What is your success rate with cases of this nature?

What are your rates and fees?

Do you have experience testifying in court?

Do you take video of surveillance operations?

Can you perform covert surveillance as needed?

Can you provide a reference of an attorney you’ve worked for in the past?

Searching Web for a Private Investigator in Costa Rica? Caution!

Caution When Searching Web for a Private Investigator in Costa Rica

Searching the web for a private investigator Costa Rica? Caution! See sites that say they are the “premier” private investigation agency in Costa Rica? Others that say, “we are the only American-owned, full-time agency located in Costa Rica? (Actually, one such claim is completely false as the principal was deported and now resides in Nicaragua, and, is forbidden to re-enter Costa Rica.) Or declaring that “our private investigator possess decades of experience in Federal Law Enforcement, Military Special Forces, Investigations, and Personal Protection?” Perhaps other sites that say “Investigations & Intelligence services in Costa Rica 30+ YEARS OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR EXPERIENCE”. All claims without substance. One such company is a referral source out of Los Angeles that does not identify the private investigators. 

CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION!

First of all I am an American and my full time job is dedicated to private investigations in Costa Rica. Secondly, I can verify my credentials. Others can’t or won’t. Searching for a reliable, trustworthy and affordable private investigator is a challenge. First, most clients looking for these types of services have very little information upon which to make a decision. Secondly, clients usually don’t have any idea of what to ask or look for when searching for a private investigator. Thirdly, most clients are unsure what it takes to have a successful investigation and feel guilty inquiring about such services.

A Private Investigator that is Reliable and Trustworthy is Challenging

Just because someone touts his phenomenal exploits and experience, there is no clearing house to prove or disprove such outlandish claims. For example; “decades of Federal experience”, “expert witness in Federal Court”, ‘ U.S. Trained forensic expert”, all such claims are ambiguous and without foundation. Most of the former law enforcement men and women that are private investigators know that being a Federal Agent does not in any way prepare you for the real world of private investigations. First, Federal Agents have at their disposal unlimited resources and budgets. It’s nothing for the government to assign 50 or 60 agents to one case. Each branch of the Federal Law enforcement has very specialized areas of investigations and the agents assigned to those areas are not permitted to work outside their assigned division. Thus, if an agent is assigned to forensics such as computers, blood types or fingerprints, what training and knowledge does he have to conduct a surveillance with limited resources and budget? Secondly, being an expert witness is at the sole discretion of the Court. If someone is deemed an expert witness on ballistics, what does this mean if the case being investigated is child custody?

It has been my pleasure to work with numerous Federal agents. They are professional and absolutely the best at the specialty they investigate. However, it has been my experience that they make less than average private investigators. Most Federal agents that retire find work in the corporate sector, which like the government has an abundance of resources and financial allocations to carry out their missions. Most private investigations involve individuals with limited resource and budgets.

There cannot be enough emphasis put on the actual physical location of the private investigator. If you call or request a blind quote and you get an immediate response without the private investigator asking you about the location and circumstances surrounding the investigation, something is “rotten in Denmark”. Each case is uniquely different and requires different resources for different situations. Someone here knows this and will ask for details in order to determine what needs to be done to have a successful investigation.

Someone who lives, for example in Nicaragua, Panama or the United States, has little if any control over the resources needed to conduct a successful investigation. Thus, it is essential that you use someone who is physically here. The others will prove to unprofessional and the results you get will be less than satisfactory.

Someone is Missing in Costa Rica

If someone is missing in Costa Rica, do not waste any time initiating an investigation. The longer you delay, the greater the chances that they may never be found.

Missing personI have had several calls to investigate the disappearance of people who were visiting Costa Rica and all of them have failed to find the missing person. The main reason for this was the lack of effort from the earliest known moment that the person went missing. Unlike the United States where there are all kinds of alerts for missing or endangered people, Costa Rica has no viable system in place to alert people of the missing person.

Why it is Important to Report someone missing in Costa Rica Immediately

Almost everyone here is busy scratching out a living and really do not have time to stop what they are doing to volunteer for a search. Such was the case recently when a woman came up missing in Guanacaste under suspicious circumstances. We were not retained until three weeks after the initial disappearance.

Having prior law enforcement experience I know the value of early response to a reported missing person. Because of earlier response time to such reports many of the missing were located. The others who were found to be the victims of a crime, the earlier response assisted in bringing those responsible to justice to answer for their deeds.

In Costa Rica the law enforcement is understaffed and under resourced. They lack the adequate resources and equipment to undertake a search for a missing person. Much of Costa Rica is endowed with lush tropical forest and jungles that lure many inexperienced and novice hikers to explore their beauty. Unaware of the lack of communication once in these areas and being poorly equipped, many of the best hikers get lost.

 

Dangers in the jungles range from Jaguars to over thirty nine species of poisonous snakes, not to mention crocodiles and scorpions. Medical response and medical facilities are spread out and it could take hours in some instance to get to a medical facility. Once there of course, there is a concern that they will have the necessary equipment and staff to treat the injury.

Thus the need to report a missing person and contact someone here in Costa Rica to start looking for that person will play a vital part in finding and returning the missing person.

Conducting Surveillance in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Private InvestigatorConducting surveillance in Costa Rica presents challenges not faced by private investigators in the United States. When a client calls and wants a surveillance here in Costa Rica I try to give them reasonable expectations on the results of such a surveillance. Unlike the United States where private investigators can have sufficient time to capture indiscretions, here we usually have less than a week. In some instances even less time.

Surveillance is being in the right place at the right time and to discreetly capture the indiscretion on video. That means that the target cannot know they are being watch or their activities are being recorded. Many of the venues in Costa Rica have ramped up security in the form of CCTV and guards. They are sensitive to videoing and will not hesitate to ask what you are doing. Thus not only does the PI need to be discreet with respect to the target, they must also be discreet and vigilant as to their surroundings.

For this reason we use teams of investigators usually comprised of two or three to carry out a surveillance. There are some PI’s that are on the web that use just one person that they subcontract the surveillance. I know of one PI that was deported from Costa Rica and is advertising services here and he can’t even enter the country. Thus it pays to vet the PI and make sure he has the experience and resources to carry out the surveillance.

Recently we had a surveillance in a resort that has extremely tight security. Many of the places that people rent are in private residences within the resort and are only accessible though a guarded gate. If you are not a guest you are denied entry. The resort is patrolled by security guards who check visitors and routinely ask them their purpose for being there. Fortunately the resort rents carts which don’t draw the attention of a roaming car. Use of the cart helps but if you remain stationary for any length of time a guard will approach you. This means that you have to be on the constant move.

Targets that are involved in an affair are sensitive to seeing the same person or car more than once. This requires that you change personnel frequently. Through diligence and perseverance usually enjoy success. Many of our clients think that capturing public displays of affection are common place. Here again targets do not perform on cue. You have to be in the right place at the right time to capture PDA’s. Investigators cannot manufacture or script such activities.

All in all if you have reasonable expectations you will not be disappointed in the results. If your expectations are those that are shown on TV programs such as “Cheaters” you will be disappointed in the results. Make sure you discuss expectations and results with you private investigator in order to make your surveillance successful.

Private Investigator Qualities

Private Investigator Qualities to Look For

UntitledPrivate Invcestigator Qualities you should look for before pulling the trigger. Private investigators have historically played a part of our childhood fascinations, thanks to the famous detective characters strewn across modern literature. From Sherlock Holmes to Erin Brockovich, the acute observation and the unparalleled wit of these famous private investigators makes the profession attractive to many. Always accompanied with a trusted and able assistant, detectives make use of just their intellectual abilities to nab the most unusual and crafty suspects. Among the many qualities that a detective should possess, here are some of the qualities of a good private investigator.

Knowledge: A real life detective gets a variety of assignments. They range from insurance frauds, extra marital affairs, theft reports, surveillance, and so on. Accordingly a private detective should possess an extensive amount of knowledge and experience that will help them to get the job done as quickly, smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Stealth:  A detective needs to be as inconspicuous as possible. They really cannot afford to demonstrate behavior or possess some characteristic that attracts unwanted attention. Especially in cases that require prolonged surveillance, detectives have to work in an incognito mode in order to gather as much information as possible.

Courage: This is a primary trait of private investigators. They should be really crafty and street smart. A little bit of hustling abilities are needed in order to get out of tight situations. As detectives do not really have any so called authoritative backing, they need their wit to get them out of sticky situations.

Trustworthiness: Their profession demands that clients disclose delicate information to them. Detectives need to understand and respect the importance and the trust the clients bestow by providing such information and they should not disclose it in any manner. The profession demands that client secrets be kept and any disclosure amounts to serious credibility issues, even inviting lawsuits.

Decision Making: This important trait rounds up the top quality of a private detective. The job sometimes creates situations which demand thinking on the feet and quick decision making abilities keeping the short term and long term objectives in mind. Stable conclusions based on observations that would help to resolve the case need to be taken confidently.

The qualities needed to be a detective are many. But these are some of the essential characteristics that are a must for a successful foray into this interesting profession.

 

Setting Expectations for Costa Rica Infidelity Cases

This is part 2 of a blog Setting Expectations for Costa Rica Infidelity Cases

Cheater photoIn part two of setting expectations for Costa Rica infidelity cases, we will examine some of the mechanical issues of carrying out such investigations.  With the arrival of high season just around the corner we here in Costa will see an increase in inquiries about infidelity investigations. I feel that one important part of taking on a new client is setting expectations, including for cost, process, outcome, and findings. Many clients do not understand the process, including associated costs and the timeframe for gathering relevant information. I find that by setting expectations for Costa Rica infidelity cases. it is best to provide the client with sufficient information prior to commencement in order to avoid misunderstandings in the future. The investigative process utilized in these types of cases is an art not a science and as such has to be flexible as theses situations are fluid and change rapidly.

Further Recomendations and Adivce

  1. Timelines are given a realistic approach in each case as it begins to gather momentum. Initialy however the client is advised that until the target is acquired, it will take an approximate 3 – 6 hours of observation; which establishes how the target interacts in their setting. Following this a briefing is conducted with the client to establish a time line on when the investigtor will be communicating with them during the operation.
  2. Fees, costs are presented on a case by case consultation basis, after the initial intake and objectives of the clients wants andneeds. The fee is agreed upon and a non refundable contract is then entered into with the aforementioned listed as a description of services to expect.
  3. No pictures of them in bed together. Just as it is in the United States, there are privacy laws here. Usually we restrict our photographic work to videos of coduct that is vlearly egrgious or suspicious. Catching them in the sack with each otehr is not going to happen. It is not like you see on television.
  4. No Guarantee on Results, we cannot manufacture indiscretions and investigators who say they have never been made in a surveillance have not done that many surveillances or are just not being truthful. A retainer is required and additional time or cost will be approved by the client. We will maintain communication with the client via a safe phone. Do they really want to know? What will they do when they find out?
  5. We explain that there are cases where their loved is not be cheating. As previously mentioned, certain cases because of the controlling nature of the client, their loved one may just be lying to spend more time with their friends. Whether to watch a football game or just hangout, aby thing is possible is possible. Every investigation begins with the idea that the person could or could not be cheating. By explaining to our infidelity clients that once we begin to see signs (evidence) of cheating, we follow up on those leads to confirm or disprove that they are directly associated with infidelity.
  6. Each assignment brings a different cost, outcome, results and findings and are different due to the client, their loved one and the paramour involved in the matter. With the matter of children and the potential of or outcome of domestic violence, this to will reflect in this answer.
  7. Suggest counseling. A report will be given with photos and or video.
  8. The more information they provide the more cost effective and best chance of providing results.
  9. Worse case scenario at the inception of the inquiry. By the time they call us they know the answer. They just want proof.
  10. Findings and end results. It has been my experience that not all clients are ready to accept the findings abd want additional surveillance. Sometimes they are in denial and have a difficult time believing their loved one would cheat on them.
  11. Our clients are told the expectations are entirely up to the target we surveil. It all depends on the activities that taregt is engaged in during the hours of surveillance. Targets do not perform on cue! We tell our clients that domestic investigations generally cost between $2,500 & $5,000 depending on the circumstances. We have had domestic cases where we have billed more and have always had good results.

 

 

Cold Case Missing Persons in Costa Rica

Cold Case Missing Persons in Costa Rica Private Investigations

Missing Person Barbara  Barbara Struncova a Czech Republic citizen has been missing from her residence in Tamarindo since the early morning hours of December 5, 2010. According to sources close to Struncova, she attended a party with friends on the night of Dec. 4 and returned home around 1a.m. on the morning of Dec. 5. She has not been seen since.On the night of Dec. 4, Struncova, 31, went to a party with several friends who were visiting from the Czech Republic. She was accompanied by her boyfriend, U.S. citizen Bill Ulmer, who sources say returned home early from the party claiming that he was frustrated by his inability to communicate with the Czech visitors. Struncova’s friends report that around 1 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 5, she returned to her residence, where she lived with Ulmer and four other roommates.

“At 1 a.m. that night we watched her walk inside the house,” said a source close to Struncova who asked to remain anonymous. “By 7 a.m. that morning, Dec. 5, Bill woke up and told us that Barbara had left with her friends in the middle of the night to go to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.”

In the days following her disappearance, worried members of Struncova’s family contacted her friends in Tamarindo. The last time family members heard from her was Dec. 4.

Struncova’s belongings are still in her Tamarindo residence.

2. Cold Case Missing Persons in Costa Rica

Missing Person Kim Paris When the family of Kim Paris contacted me it had been almost 11 days since her disappearance. She had allegedly left a note at the hotel (Latitude 10) where she and her husband Gabriel Orozco were resident managers that she was going shopping. During my investigation into this there were unverified spottings of Kim after the day of her disappearance.  Several things about this disappearance made me question the stories I had been told. The fact of the matter was if Kim was the victim of a crime there are almost limitless places to dispose of the body and cover any potential evidence and or witnesses. Lacking resources and assistance it was challenging to search the area and the locals were of no assistance.

Kim Paris, is a dual citizen of France and Canada, moved to Santa Teresa from Montreal at the age of 33. She arrived with her boyfriend, Gabriel Orozco, whom she married in Costa Rica in January 2010.

The reason that I am posting this information again is in hopes that id someone stumbles across skeletel remains they remember this young woman who disappeared and has yet to be found. Also this is in the same general area of the disappearance of Barbara mentioned above.

Directories Offering PI Services in Costa Rica

Beware of Directories Offering PI Services in Costa Rica

CG logoThere are several directories offering PI services in Costa Rica. These are nothing more than clearing houses for a web entrepreneur to get a percentage by referring you case to one of their members. More than often the members of such directories have to do nothing to obtain the referral except joining the directory and paying a small subscription fee. The directories in turn do no or little due diligence and refer your case to someone they know nothing about. Recently I was curious and call one that is prominently displayed in the Google organic search and learned that it was a call center located in the western United States. When I inquired as to who was the PI in Costa Rica the CSR couldn’t tell me.

Directories offering PI Services in Costa Rica look professional and glitzy

Remember all that glitters is not gold. I have seen several of these sites and they all use the same format. They advertise professional investigators in all parts of the world. Think about that. The major PI firms in the world are Pinkertons, Wakenhut, and Wells Fargo. None of these prestigous firms pass their clients to anyone that is not thouroughlyvetted.

When you have a problem that needs the attention of a tried and trued professional private investigator, you are rolling the dice when you use a directory in the selection process. Most of the directories want to be the intermediator between you and the PI. The reason? They want their cut of the fees. They know that if you deal directly with the PI they will receive nothing. What do the directories bring to the table? Nothing but names and referrals of who they know nothing about.

When your problems are such that you need a reliable and professional PI, do you due diligence and vet the PI your self. What kind of experience, education and training doe the PI have to accomplish your objecties? Are those qualifications verifiable? Last year there was a PI in Costa Rica who advertised that he was a former federal agent, a former Navy Seal along with a myriad of other unverifiable puffery. He was apprehended by the Immigration Service of Costa Rica and was deported for being in Costa Rica illegally. He is now in Nicaragua offering PI services in Costa Rica, a country he is forbidden to enter. HE IS ALSO A MEMBER OF SEVERAL OF THESE DIRECTORIES!

If you need or want aprofessional and reliable private investigator contact us. We have verifiable qualifications and references. We are available 24/7 to serve you.

 

Losing your passport in Costa Rica

If you’ve had to go get a new passport after losing your passport in Costa Rica, you have actually discovered (like others) it’s no more the simplest thing to show that you’re you. If you’re a first-timer, you need to appear personally with a birth certification, at least one government-issued ID (2 if it’s out of state), photocopies, kinds and fees, and afterwards wait your turn. If you lose your passport while taking a trip abroad, you have actually got to show up at an embassy or consulate with numerous of those kinds in hand.

us passport lost or stolenWorse yet, as highlighted by the current news that 2 swiped keys were utilized by guests aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, your key could well have as much, if not even more, value to bad guys here and abroad exactly because they are so difficult to obtain and increasingly tough to counterfeit. The Wall Street Journal reports that Interpol has actually 40 million lost or stolen passports in its data source already (but that travelers boarded planes 1 billion times in 2013 without their keys being checked against that database).

So what can you do to keep your key safe both before and after you take a trip?

Never ever Simply Drop It in the Mail
If you have to restore your passport, you should submit your present ticket to allow the State Division to cancel it. But while it’s appealing to merely stick a couple stamps on it and throw it in the closest mail box, do not! Send it by means of signed up mail with a return receipt requested so that the Post Office keeps a much better eye on it and you know that it showed up– since if it goes walkabout, you have to go back to square one.

Do not Take It With You If You Don’t Need to
If you have another form of government-issued ID, there’s no need to be lugging around a ticket (and, if you do not, all states concern low-priced non-driver ID cards, which are worth getting for precisely this reason). Purses get taken, wallets get lifted and IDs get left behind so often that it’s worth a delay in line at the DMV for an alternate ID.

Shop It Safely
Though it’s appealing, don’t save your ticket in your underwear drawer, your desktop organizer or your precious jewelry box– all locations that are a first-look for any would-be burglar or identification burglar. Establishment it someplace others will not believe to look or can’t quickly remove– like a safe. Your ID is valuable: treat it that way.

Keep a Photocopy
If you lose your passport abroad, you will need a photocopy (or a scanned copy) of the initial in order to make your method house. Shop the copy like you would the initial: in a safe, secured area that you can access and others can not. If you’re working with an electronic copy, see to it it’s an encrypted file or on an encrypted drive.

Report Its Loss Promptly
If you presume your key is swiped or lost, particularly if you’re currently abroad, don’t take an extra day to retrace your steps: report it quickly. The worst thing you can do is wait and wish it shows up– only to discover that whoever made off with it likewise goinged of town on it.

It has actually ended up being so widespread for individuals to misplace credit cards and drivers’ licenses (or have them stolen) that companies and even states have actually made them reasonably simple to cancel and replace. But when it concerns super-IDs like keys, birth certificates as well as Social Security cards, the procedures are long and tough since they develop who you are as best the governments can– and because they want you to take additional care not to lose them in the first place.

Losing a super-ID like a ticket can make you susceptible to identification burglary. It is essential after losing an ID like this that you closely monitor your bank accounts and credit to ensure you do not end up being a sufferer. You can monitor your credit totally free using the Credit Report Card, a free device offered by my company that updates 2 of your credit ratings monthly. Any major, unexpected changes in your scores might signal identity theft and you need to pull complimentary copies of your credit reports to make certain your identification is safe.