When Crime Happens to you (part 1)...
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
It has taken me a while to write this post because I wasn't really sure about what approach to take.
Before we moved here I did years of research on Costa Rica which included a comparison of the crime statistics, however as we found out quite recently, the information we were given did not reflect the true nature of the situation here today.
I have decided the best way to present the information is just to be honest.
If the information deters people from moving here, that will be a choice they make. If people decide to move here anyway, at least they will do so with their eyes open. I think that is only fair. My goal is not to tell people they should not move to Costa Rica, my goal is to let people know that there is some information about crime here that has not been made readily available.
The most disheartening thing to me, is that most of the published info on crime in Costa Rica does not tell the whole truth. I think that they are afraid of telling the truth because it might scare people away so they use PR to sugar coat it. You will most likely read that there is crime here but it is described as "petty" crime. Just take reasonable safety precautions as you would do anywhere, i.e don't leave your belongings unattended, don't go walking on the beach at night, stay away from shady neighborhoods etc. When I read that, I was OK. I figured we can be vigilant and we will be fine. (BTW- I have been to the National Stadium three times and on 2 of those occasions we had problems, a friend had her $100 Bruno Mars ticket stolen from her purse on the way to the concert and on another occasion at the Chocolate Festival a friend had her purse stolen from her chair as another person distracted us) I chalked both of those up to petty crime but you can see how frequently someone can become a victm of those crimes.
We moved here, to a nice quiet town and we didn't build or buy a fancy new house as many expats do (and btw - there is nothing wrong with building a new house, we couldn't afford one), we rented an unobtrusive house from a Tico. We have security in our home, we're gated and we have no car, we're not flashy dressers, we don't have expensive jewelry and don't go around trying to draw attention to ourselves. We don't have wild parties, we're not loud and are very careful about who we allow in our home. We know our neighbors and have tried to become active in helping in the community.
As you know I have been one of Costa Rica's biggest cheerleaders!
Sorry to say, none of that mattered when we became the victim of a crime last month. At first we weren't going to tell anyone choosing to keep it to ourselves, after all the stats told us that this was a safe place to live and even the police told us that "this is very rare" .After some urging from our Tico landlord we decided to share our experience in hopes that it might help other people. Once we began sharing we found out about all the other people that had also been victims of crime here. If they had not been a victim personally, they knew of someone who had. What? How could this be? We found this information very alarming. So, I started digging deeper and found out some surprising new information.
Things have been changing since about 2013. As the city grows so does the crime.
I won't go into the details but there have been many burglaries and several armed home invasions in the area over the last several months. Our neighbor told us (after he found out what happened to us) that there had been at least 5 or 6 burglaries on our street in the last year. None of these crimes have been solved and more than likely none of them will be. I'll talk more about this in part 2.
Here are some links you can look at to begin to familiarize yourself with the reality of crime here.
"Costa Rica took a big hit over the holidays with female tourists and visitors. Women were murdered in Costa Rica – brutally and viciously – with the most famous being the Venezuelan/American from Miami, Carla Stefaniak, who visited in December to celebrate her birthday. She was found partially buried behind the Airbnb she was visiting, and the hotel security guard stands accused of her murder."
This could have catastrophic repercussions for the Costa Rican tourist industry, an industry which brought in almost 3.9 billion dollars to the Tico economy last year.