What to do when crime happens (pt 2)
Once we started talking to other people in the area and we realized that NOTHING was going to be done about what happened to us, I got a little angry (to say the least). And yes, I was guilty of bringing my North American attitude on apprehending criminals with me to Costa Rica. If you do too, it's ok because until you know differently, of course you are going to think that police work basically the same everywhere and now you know that it is different here in Costa Rica.
Anyway, we had to make a decision about what we were going to do. The first option was to move. However, where would we go? In Costa Rica the crime situation is all over the country as the population is only 5 million. So that option was ruled out. Also we really like our neighborhood and our friends. Our landlord was very concerned (I think he felt a sense of responsible for what happened) and helped beef up our security by changing out doors, adding more locks, updating inside and outside cameras, adding lights, motion sensors and.. adding the dreaded BARS. You know, the ones everyone comments about when they see photos of Tico homes. I think the Ticos may be on to something! Bars that once seemed to be for prisons, well -- I am liking them more and more these days! LOL
Our other option is to leave Costa Rica. I've decided to give it a year and see how I am feeling because at this time, it is very hard to sleep and every sound in the middle of the night brings back memories. So, in the meantime, I will be paying close attention to crime statistics here and keeping an eye on other locations outside of Costa Rica that might work better for us. I'll be conducting due diligence as we travel.
Since we are still here I decided to channel my energy into doing something proactive to help others in the community. So I organized a group (we have a page on Facebook) to dialogue about the increasing crime in our communities and brainstorm together about solutions. I called the group "What to do When Crime Happens". Along with interested people in the expat community, I invited members of the local police to speak on their role as law enforcement as well as our attorney who spoke about our rights as expats.
"Well, you may ask yourself: What does Costa Rica do about all this crime?
The answer is nothing." Rafael Valverde
For more info--Mr Valverde has reposted an article from a few years ago about crime you can read it here
Outlier Legal Services
Office: (506) 2100-6593 Fax: (506) 2289-4728
The 1st meeting was held on Sat Feb 9th at Sol de Justicia Church in Grecia. The reason I restrcited the 1st meeting to expats was because we are not citizens of Costa Rica and we cannot vote and we have no say in the government although we contribute quite a bit to the overall economy. We needed to know how we are protected and what we can and cannot do (legally) as expats.
Our attorney Rafael Valverde gave an excellent talk about the economic situation here in Costa Rica, and as it turns out...the country doesn't seem to have the money or the resources to combat the crime here. With only about 5 prisons in the entire country (which are grossly overcrowded) and with only about 4% of criminals being apprehended -- Crime Pays in Costa Rica!!!
I think that the meeting was a good 1st step and we have a lot more to do but at least I got the ball rolling and I happy about that.
It's going to be "us" in the community coming together to decide how to stay safe.
The 2nd meeting, "Grecia Area Residents Against Crime" will be open to the wider community and include Ticos and expats in the surrounding communities and will focus on "ways" to keep our homes safe.
I'll keep you posted!!!
Other Links & info
link for crime and safety reports
some facts about tourism
Over the last 10 years the tourism industry has contributed over U.S. $28 billion to the country’s finances and the growth has been close to 10% every year.
The total number of visitors during those 10 years came close to 24 million; out of which, 40% were from the United States, 28% came from Central America, 14% from Europe, 6% from South America and the remaining 12% from other regions.
Of the tourists who visit Costa Rica each year, 49.86 are male, and 50.14 are female
You can find a lot of information on how wonderful it is to live in Costa Rica but rarely do you find information on the downside. Here's a link I found that might be worth reading. Again, it is the author's opinion.