Security in Costa Rica

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    My recent (and first) visit to Costa Rica raised some serious concerns regarding security. I believe the vast majority of Ticos are honest and hard working, but Costa Rica is a magnet for people coming from nearby and far less prosperous places. It is also a haven for people wanted by the law in lands like the U.S.A.

    It was sad to see bars on every window in San Jose. Many homes seemed like security compounds with high fences topped with coiled barbed wire. I even noticed a church with such a fence all around it.

    My car rental company advised me not to attempt to change my own tire by the side of the road. Rather, I should ruin the tire by driving to the nearest service station — there would be no charge for the ruined tire from the car rental company.

    I wonder if the low crime statistics are the result of people not bothering to report crimes since little is done about them.

    I’d appreciate the reply and input of others with much more experience than my total of 5 days in Costa Rica.


    Go to Mexico, Argentina, or any other Third World country and you will find bars on the windows and doors, and sometimes concertina wire and broken bottles turned up-ended on high walls enclosing a house. Come to my neighborhood here in Colorado where the billionaires enclose themselves behind 8′ electrified fences, and live in houses equipped with lots of guns and an alarm system, just in case the security guard they hired doesn’t respond fast enough. Welcome to the real world. With the slow response of the local police in Costa Rica, providing there is any response at all to a report of a burglary or break-in, the Ticos prefer a pre-emptive strike by making it nigh impossible for the ladrone to get in in the first place. Come to Denver where urban crime is rampant, or how about parts of D.C. or New York? Overall, the crimes rates in Costa Rica are far below what they are in the States. There are crooks, thieves, murderers everywhere — not just in Costa Rica. I just built a home in Costa Rica and I equipped it with an alarm system. We also have a night guard. I think the number one rule is to not flaunt wealth, not pretend you are a rich gringo who has more than you need and thus can spare a toaster, microwave, or television. These rules apply to anywhere, not just Costa Rica.


    We are planning on building there as well and have spent quite a bit of time all over the country over the last 4-5 years. At first all the bars are a bit disconcerting(and just ugly!).It seems there is mostly petty crimes that are preventable with common sense, we have only had one situation arise. Very textbook as we were slowly moving in traffic out of Aluela towards the airport a young boy came up behind us and punctured our tire, I saw him pass a few times but was concentrating on the traffic. Then my girlfriend heard the air hissing out and we knew right away what had happened. We drove into a gas station a few blocks away and a very nice employee changed our tire while we watched out for the “gang”. I am amused when people I know get concerned about us traveling/buying in C.R. a “third world” nation, we live in NYC and here the level and degrees of crime committed every day would make your hair stand on end!! As well lots of petty theft with car radios, recently my golf cubs stolen out of my truck in a very posh downtown neighborhood!!! Don’t leave items in your car, and lock away your money and valuables in a safe box at your hotel/home and just enjoy.

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