Crime and Safety in Costa Rica

Crime and Safety in Costa Rica photo

This article is not intended to scare you or make you worried during your vacation however it is important to understand crime and safety in Costa Rica, it will merely lessen the chances of anything negative happening which allows you to enjoy your hard-earned vacation here in Costa Rica. I have lived here for about 20 yrs, and other than maids picking the odd thing up, I have not had any horrific experiences. But, facts are facts. Let’s begin by understanding that Costa Rica is a developing nation and is not quite up to Canada, U.S. or even European standards of policing.

Costa Rica is literally in the middle of drug producing countries like Columbia, Peru and Bolivia and the main Consumer, the U.S making Costa Rica a flow through country. With limited funding, the police are understaffed and undertrained by our standards. Because of lack of funds, the prison system is overcrowded and many criminals are on the street when they should be locked up.

Petty theft and drug-related crimes are what you need to watch for. The legal system is rather lax as well, which means criminals don’t suffer harsh sentences and are on the street when they should be locked up.

Here are a few tips and recommendations:

• There are many ATM’s in Costa Rica. You do not need to carry wads of cash on you. If you need to take out a rather large amount from the local bank or are converting $’s to Colones, ask for a sobre “envelope” and have the teller put the money in it behind the counter instead of flashing it around as you stuff it into your pockets.
• Keep your cell phone out of site. Carrying it in your hand or in your back pocket is just too much temptation.
• Your passports are a valuable commodity and can fetch a high price, so please leave it in your safe and carry a copy on you at all times as that is the law. You need a copy of the page with your photo and a copy of the page with the entry stamp so that they can see that you are not overstaying your visa.
• While at the beach enjoying the sun and surf, it is not a wise idea to take valuables with you, unless you have a trusted partner or friend to watch over your things.
• Take a taxi anytime you can at night time. Do not walk or bike after dark.
• Leave your valuables in your hotel safe if possible and try not to take anything with you in your car or even your trunk (unless your trunk is very secure).
• Bad guys will puncture your tire with a small object, causing you to lose air while you are driving and have to pull over. At that point, one will offer you help and the partner will empty your car while you are distracted.
• If confronted or threatened, do not resist, give them what they want. Everything you own can be replaced. You can’t be!
• Don’t become a target by being drunk or high in public.
• Travel in pairs or better yet, a group if possible.
• If you are a victim of theft or assault, please report it to the local authorities.

In summary; keep your wits about you at all times and enjoy the weather, culture, and people of Costa Rica. Following these tips will assure you of a pleasant experience while vacationing here. Pura Vida!


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