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Bonnie Williams of Fundacion Bid 4 Bouquete – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Home in Boquete, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBecause of criminal activity, security has become a major consideration for residents of Boquete. While home burglaries have diminished somewhat, the most recent concern is violent home invasion robberies during which one resident was killed and several others gravely injured. The suspected perpetrators of these incidents are gang members from David, who have easier ingress and egress because of the new four-lane highway. This view is supported by the fact there is a higher incidence of crime south of town, where the highway provides a quick trip back to David before the authorities are alerted.
 
I know no one who goes about his daily business here in fear of his life. But there is no question that there is profound concern. There is a high level of awareness, though, and most residents are proactively moving to protect themselves. There are many more barred windows, security cameras, and alarm systems than there were when we moved here nine years ago. There is a local anti-crime organization and a "hotline" with a bilingual responder who can contact the pertinent authorities quickly.
 
Those most at risk are those who live in unsecured homes and apartments (much rental property here lacks basic security measures) and/or people who live remotely. Most of the home invasions have taken place in rural, lightly populated areas.
 
In day-to-day living, however, people move about freely, without fear, within the Boquete community.
 
(Home in Boquete, Panama, pictured.)
Nancy Burgess – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Agree with Jaime Daniel and disagree with the realtors.  Crime in Boquete has increased significantly over the last 5 years, Compared to large urban areas the crime rate may be minor, however when considering the fact Boquete used to be an idyllic mountain retreat and is now becoming an armed fortress, some consideration should be taken to what is being said.  The mayor has installed numerous security cameras around the municipal buildings and in strategic other locations.  A police roadblock has been set up at the entrance to the district and soon a permanent guard gate will be erected in the same spot, in hopes of cutting down on criminals coming into the area from surrounding towns.  Unfortunately, it seems to just be bothering law abiding residents and doing nothing to curb criminal activity. Just today another expat was shot following a mid-day armed home invasion by 3 youths.  These incidences seem to be occurring monthly according to the local grapevine.  The perpetrators are doing bodily harm and even murder without cause in most instances. Despite a lack of resistance on the part of the victims, the juveniles are stabbing and shooting elderly foreigners just for the notoriety of it.  What is maddening about this, besides the obvious,  is the secrecy being maintained by local business and government officials who want to avoid any blights to  tourism efforts.  There is actually more criminal activity occurring than what is being published. 
 
Also, within the past year, a local businessman out of Los Molinos has been granted a license to take investors and tourists on helicopter rides over the mountains.  These helicopter rides are occurring multiple times a day, and due to the surrounding mountains, the noise from the choppers is magnified down into the valley and town below.  Boquete, instead of sounding like a mountain retreat, sounds more like a poor airport suburb every day.  People continue to spill into the area, however, and costs of staples as well as rents and property values  have skyrocketed.  For the same rents one can find in retirement areas such as a Sun City, you get a lot less in Boquete.  The local hospital doesn't possess a heart defibrillator and the one ambulance in town is reserved for car accidents and such, so you can't consider it a resource for a critical illness or heart attack emergency care.  If you aren't able to survive an hour's ride to the nearest city hospital, you will probably die.  Realtors who have a vested interest in attracting people to Boquete will most likely mention the new hospital being constructed in Alto Boquete, but it's a long way from finished and even then, the staffing and medication stock and available equipment remains in question.  Two years ago I dislocated a shoulder from a fall and there was no a working xray machine in Boquete.  The local doctor refused to treat me without an xray, so I had to find someone to drive me an hour into the nearest city, vomitting in pain,  before I was treated.  
 
Boquete isn't a paradise.  It's a place to live, like any other.  It is scenic and still somewhat rural, but that is changing fast. The weather is temperate, but It rains 8 months of the year, and during the 4 month dry season it has stiff winds and drizzly fog. Crime is decreasing slightly in some of the bigger cities in Panama, but it is significantly increasing in Boquete and other provincial towns. 
Jaime Daniel – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The juveniles of Chiriqui province where Boquete, David, Dolega, Potrerillos located are entering homes and are armed.  Three households have been attacked in the past 3 months.  The owners were home, one is dead, another severely beaten, another recently shot and stabbed.  The juveniles are protected by law and are untouchable.  Police have arrested several, all were released even after admitting involvement.  This is in accordance with Panamanian law and they know they are untouchable.
 
Panama was once a very safe country, this kind of criminal activity is on the rise.
 
Dee Bissonnette – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I understand this area of Panama is having a real issue.  Violent crimes are on the rise in this area.  How sad that some of these people that were recently murdered are also the same people that said it is the safest place in the world to be.  You can see what is going on by one of the locals blog, which you should see before you decide on this area.
 
Ricord (Ric) Winstead, MD of Retirement Services International – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
 Child's bike left outside – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI haven’t seen figures on crime rates in Boquete but it is really pretty low.
 
There are two things to think about when you think about crime rates. The first is that there is a disparity between the rich and the poor, but there is no homelessness in Boquete. You will not see people wander around begging in the streets. Anywhere that there is a large disparity in wealth, however, folks with less things are tempted to take things from people who have more who leave their things lying around. Crimes here in Boquete are mostly crimes of opportunity. There are really no organized gangs. There is no second amendment in Panama so people are not armed to the teeth. There are very few violent crimes in Panama. Crime here is usually the "five finger discount" type. People will take your items if you leave them out and you’re conspicuous. 
 
In Boquete, since it’s a much smaller town, everybody knows everybody.  As a result, there is much less pick pocketing or snatching compared to any city in Panama. It has a very safe feel and indeed it is safe in Boquete. People do get stolen from and part of the culture is to have things look like they are secured. A lot of the houses have grillwork over the windows, they have strong doors, and people do not leave stuff outside that they want to continue to have. 
 
When I was growing up in what is now Clayton, Panama, as a kid, I learned from my parents that if I wanted to continuously have my bike, I could not just leave it lying in my yard. I would have to put it in the garage and make sure that the garage door was locked.  If I didn’t, I would not have a bike for long. 
 
Panamanians are easygoing people. They don’t have animosity towards Americans. They are friendlier than any place on this planet that has income disparity.  However, Panama has people who will take stuff that is left lying around. Crimes of opportunity is really the most that happens in Boquete.
Wee-Yiong Fung of Prestige Panama Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Wee Yiong with Roger Doucette and wife expats – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf they don’t go looking for trouble, the crime rate against Americans and other expats in Boquete is low. However, criminals in Boquete may target Americans if the Americans start looking for trouble, for example, if the expats are looking for drugs. As soon as someone asks for weed (marijuana) or any illegal drugs, they bring themselves closer to danger because those who have illegal drugs in Boquete are criminals. It's not like in the US where marijuana is considered a recreational drug that everybody likes to do once in a while. In Boquete, those people who do drugs are not considered normal. They are considered abnormal and a criminal. So the main reason why Americans get targeted by the criminals in Boquete is when Americans start asking for trouble.
 
But, generally, Americans who live a normal life are liked and appreciated in Boquete. People enjoy being around Americans and other expats because they bring jobs, such as cleaning, fixing something, etc., and they get involved in the community. 
 
(Wee Yiong Fung with expats Roger Doucette and wife who as investors have contributed to the economy of Chiriqui Province, Panama, pictured.)
Lissy Lezcano  of Lissy Lezcano Attorney & Mediator – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Boquete home – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhen it comes to crimes, I do not see that Americans or expats are targeted in any way in Boquete. However, people take advantage of the expats’ lack of knowledge of how things work in Panama.
 
I am a lawyer and let’s say for example, someone asks me how long it takes for his retiree visa to get approved. I would tell him that it takes 6 to 8 months for the immigration to approve it. Somebody else might tell him that he could get it in 1 month if the expat pays more for it. That’s a lie because the immigration will never approve a retiree visa in 1 month. So that is a scam.
 
People buy properties in Boquete without a title. In Panama there is what’s called Direcho Posesorio, or “Rights of Possession”.  Sometimes people buy properties this way, but it is not something that is very wise to do because many people can claim that they have the same rights to the same property. A judge will then have to decide which one has the real rights, which could take a couple of years to be solved because the court system in Panama is very slow. Sometimes foreigners do not understand that. Personally, I do not do litigation because the courts are so slow, except for friends. 
 
Sometimes people take advantage of the lack of knowledge of foreigners when they come to Panama for the first time. These are not really crimes, but these are the ways in which expats are taken advantage of when they come to Panama. 
 
(Pictured: local home.  Make sure you can get clear title in Panama, not Direcho Posesorio.)
Dennis Reason – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
It's very disingenuous to say crime is unheard of here and this misinformation may be actually be contributing to the rising crime rates.  We have been living in Boquete and Volcan for three years and have noticed a marked increase in violent crimes against expats including deaths.  We have had only one attempted break in but have had several neighbors who have had to fight off break ins while they were in progress from inside their home.  We need businesses and people involved in real estate here to look at the problem honestly and proactively or it will soon become just another "used to be a good place" to retire like others in Latin America.  
Paul McBride – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Violent crime is nearly unheard of in Boquete.  Petty theft occurs occasionally but is usually the result of poor precautions taken by the victim.  For example, leaving your car unlocked with your purse, wallet or cell phone visible.  This can prove to be too much of a temptation for passers by.
 
As mentioned earlier, Boquete has an excellent neighborhood watch program that is the model for other communities in Panama.  Working with local law enforcement and with government officials, the expat community has been very successful is significantly reducing the rate of crime in the entire area and making Boquete one of the safest places to live in Panama. 

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