Security is one of the biggest concerns from foreigners who wish to move to Costa Rica and one of the questions we get asked most about. What’s the murder rate? Is it dangerous there? Is it safe for a single woman in her 60’s?
These are the type of questions we receive from potential expats and the answer is yes, Costa Rica just like any other country in the world has crime. However, Costa Rica is not as bad as its fellow Central American neighbors as you may have heard. There are a few things to know about Costa Rica’s security and safety before you make the big decision to move or travel here.
Costa Rica doesn’t have an army
Costa Rica abolished their army back in the 1940’s after a victory in their civil war. They have relied on their police force ever since then. If that isn’t a sign of a peaceful country, then what is?
Petty theft is the main crime
Theft and robbery are the two main crimes you will hear and see on the news and unfortunately it is something expats really do need to watch out for. This can be from pick pocketing, muggings, car break ins and home robberies.
Security – Tips for staying safe
- When it comes to protecting your belongings, common sense is highly needed. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep track of your belongings
- When you are out and about, always zip up your purse. Don’t stick your phone or wallet in a pocket half out.
- Don’t leave your belongings on the table and go to the bathroom (always make sure you have all your belongings or someone you trust has them.)
- Make sure your belongings are in your sight at all times.
- When driving, never leave your belongings in your car in plain sight. Don’t even leave it in your trunk.
- At home, always lock up windows and doors when leaving and use the poles if you have them for extra protection for your windows.
- Leave your valuables at home if you plan to go out. Especially at the beach, walking around town or something more adventurous!
Things to watch out for
- If you see somebody wandering around, waiting and looking out of place at bus stop or somewhere. Be very careful. Thieves have been known to wait for tourists to get off the bus while they’re still a bit tired and rob them.
- Be wary if someone is too helpful – sad but true. Some thieves will offer to watch your luggage for your and then take off with it
- If you are driving and suddenly get a flat tire or a problem with your car, be very careful about the person who suddenly shows up out of nowhere all of a sudden. This is a typical situation thieves will set up to rob you. Drive back to the car rental office or get yourself to a hotel, police office, airport, whichever is closest.
- Your passport. Passport theft is one of the highest in Costa Rica. Make sure you take a color photocopy of your passport just in case.
The most important thing to remember is to use your common sense. If you don’t normally leave all your precious and expensive items on a table at a restaurant and leave for 5 minutes at home, don’t do it in Costa Rica. Keep a careful eye out and be smart.