The Helpline Works

In late May 2013, five masked gunmen jumped out of the dark to rob a restaurant in San Carlos. They brutally robbed and beat four guests and the gringo owner.

The guests were from Boquete, Chiriqui, the western-most province in Panama. Once they got untied, the victims called the AaC emergency HOTLINE which is run by the local community safety organization in Boquete: Alto Al Crimen (

The HOTLINE operator called an AaC board member, who in turn called the founder of Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) now known as the Panamá HELPLINE - the community safety organization in the interior of Panama - (covering Penonomé in the West to Chamé in the East, including Altos Del Maria and El Valle)

Within six hours of the call coming in, a private detective was on the scene (Pretty good considering Boquete is a five hour drive).

He immediately started asking questions and gathering evidence. This was the second brutal attack on the same restaurant in three months. Despite a photo of one of the gang members from the first robbery being sent to the Prosecutor in San Carlos - no arrests had been made in three months.

Within six (6) days of the detective arriving in San Carlos -  two of the gang members were arrested!

This is not the end of the story, and clearly we have other issues to work on, but the HELPLINE is an essential tool in our efforts towards making Panama as safe as it can be.

The HELPLINE works. When Boquete installed their HOTLINE system - they reduced crime in Boquete by over 80%.

Getting police and investigators to the scene quickly, before evidence and witnesses disappear is a key to catching these criminals.

There are many reasons for the success of the HELPLINE:

Firstly - many foreigners do not speak Spanish very well, especially in a panic situation. Police cannot understand what they are trying to say to them.

Secondly, there are few addresses or directional signs in Panama, and describing where you live or where you are located is often difficult, especially in another language.

Thirdly - police and emergency services receive a lot of crank calls - from drunks, kids, and false alarms - especially from the cheap alarm systems sold at big box stores in Panama.
(Lightening and/or power surges set off false alarms and the responders just learn to ignore automated emergency calls).

Our operators sift through all of this clutter - and only call the emergency services in a genuine emergency.

In Boquete the police, fire, and ambulance operators love the HOTLINE - they know if the AaC operator calls - it is a true emergency, and they respond quickly.

Most importantly, our operator can give the emergency services directions in Spanish - and help guide them to the emergency - in Spanish.

The Panamá Helpline is not a police force - we are a volunteer organization that works with Panama's Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice system, working where they need us.

In our "Members Only" section of our website, we explain how we are able to give exact directions to the police, and what the other issues we are working on.
(No use telling the crooks our secrets - is there?)

The HELPLINE will not stop all attacks - but it is the best tool we have right now to fight violent crime in our communities.

The Panamá Helpline S.A. is not interested in drug smuggling, money laundering or other crimes - we are concerned with community safety only - especially violent crime.

The Panamá Helpline is like a bilingual "911" and a "AAA" service, all in one.

Only $120 a year

Join PH  today - "You will never be alone in Panama again".

Recent News

Members Only. If you have a membership, please sign in to view Recent News.

Recent Safety Articles

Members Only. If you have a membership, please sign in to view Safety Articles.

Upcoming events

Members Only. If you have a membership, please sign in to view upcoming events.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software