Drive-by shootings in Belize
City as a one legged man is arraigned for stealing a bicycle.
A lone night watchman is murdered in San Pedro as several home
invasions are reported in Corozal. Tourists are jacked in broad
daylight on sight seeing tours in Cayo as day time burglaries
occur in Placencia and PG. Five tons of cocaine is unearthed
on a deserted caye while an American backpacker is found murdered
in the sleepy Toledo Maya village of Indian Creek. A prominent
expat real estate agent in Belize is found dead sitting in a
chair on his porch on Ambergris Caye as another charge of unlawful
carnage knowledge of a twelve year old minor in Orange Walk
is filed in a courtroom in Belize City. Is paradise disintegrating
before our eyes or simply a reflection of the world we live
I can remember one night during the first trip I took to Punta
Gorda in the far southern Toledo District of Belize. I had rented
a driver and his truck for the day to take some photographs
of the last ten miles of unpaved road along the Southern Highway
in fear the road would be surfaced within the year. After the
photo shoot, I was tired and dusty and therefore declined to
go have a few Belikens with the driver. I paid him for his services,
he signed the receipt acknowledging that he had indeed received
payment in full and I assumed that was that.
About ten o’clock that same evening someone came a knocking
on my hotel room door. As I opened the door, I was quite surprised
to see two Punta Gorda uniformed police officers standing in
the doorway. When I inquired as to what they were there for,
they politely explained that the driver had said I failed to
pay him. I promptly presented my signed receipt to which they
again explained, "the driver says you did not pay."
The police officers then advised me that I should pay the man
or I would have to go with them to the PG police department.
By this time we were together on the veranda of the small hotel
next to the local airstrip. Down below I noticed that the two
officers were riding not in a police vehicle but in the same
truck I had been bouncing along the Southern Highway that same
day. Understanding the situation was only going to be resolved
if I paid, I asked, “how much”?? The arbitrary price
of BZ$75.00 was agreed upon, I paid the lead officer and until
today I have simply let the story die a natural death.
That is until I started researching this story about crime
in Belize. During that research I stumbled across a handful
of tales on the Internet. There is the story talking about a
gringo in Belize City that ran a successful storage business.
One night eight men in black arrived to his gate announcing
they were members of the Belize Police Department and demanded
entrance into the property. The gringo according the online
blog let them in and during a subsequent search of the premises
the officers turned up a lone shotgun shell. Reportedly but
not verified the gringo was charged with illegal possession
of ammunition, an offence that could carry a fine of BZ$10,000.
The gringo swore that he had never owned a gun in Belize, but
paid a BZ$1500.00 bail and was released.
Although the outcome of the gringo’s case was not mentioned
on the posting Internet website, BELIZEmagazine.com contacted
Belize Police Department spokesperson Mr. G. Michael Reid for
comment. Mr. Reid responded by saying, " the Police now
have been enforcing stricter gun and ammunition laws and they
were in no way picking on any particular person, certainly not
any gringo...accusations about the Police planting evidence
on anyone is a serious one indeed."
The reality of the matter, Belize is really no different these
days than any other place in the America’s or on the rest
of the planet for that matter From Omaha to Ullaan Bator to
Paris to Abidjan to Spanish Lookout. Crime is a phenomenon as
well as questionable tactics by law enforcement. In Belize locals
and travelers and retirees alike need to accept the fact that
proper security is a reality in the world we live in today.
If you go out on the town and over indulge to the point whereas
people jump in the back bed of your pickup truck for a free
hitched ride and then later, as you sleep in an unlocked house
with all the lights, they rob you of your worldly possessions.
You simply cannot blame the local police for not properly securing
you and your property or for getting into an encounter with
an unscrupulous driver as I did.
And it’s not just something you can unexpectedly face
in Belize. Why a very close friend of mine just emailed me the
other day to tell me how his dear eighty-year old mother who
lives in an exclusive gated community in Sun City in the U.S.
state of Arizona fell victim to two intruders that invaded her
protected home. Though she escaped the ordeal with the lost
of jewelry and her confidence, they also spared the woman her
life. She this day considers herself lucky, rightfully so my