We live in Belgium and were in Puerto Viejo on Oct 4th. We got attacked by two men, masked, dressed in black. One had a gun, the other one a knife. It happened on the way to our hotel, at 10 o'clock in the evening, on the main road, 500 m. from the center in the direction of Cocles. It was very close to a still open pizzeria, so it was not somewhere in the middle of nowhere. We are always careful and didn't have much personal belongings with us, and we were not drunk. Luckily we didn't got hurt, we only lost a cell phone, but it could have been worse. For some reason, the attackers stopped and ran away in the bushes. We went to the pizzeria, and while we were still there, maybe 20 minutes later, a young couple was attacked on the same road by the same men ! They were not so lucky, they were put a gun at their head, their money, credit card and phone were stolen. A helpful local man from the pizzeria followed the attackers, they shot at him, luckily they missed.
It took the police almost an hour to arrive, they took us to the police station where we reported everything. The police were so helpless, uninterested, incapable, ...
Back in the hotel we heard of 3 other people being attacked and robbed too the days before, all on the same road. And that's only for 1 hotel during a few days.
To all the people who are saying that Puerto Viejo is a paradise : It's NOT. And by saying this and ignoring the facts, you will only make it worse. In recent years there has been a lot of crime here, much worse than our experiences, but still most of the locals say that the crime has stopped, it's not so bad after all, etc... Face it, crime didn't stop at all.
Of course it's a question of bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But in this town too many people are in the wrong place at the same time...
Comparing it to crime in other cities and countries is a pointless argument. We've been in about 40 countries all over the world, also in places that are considered far more dangerous than Costa Rica. There is crime everywhere, but for such a small tiny little "paradise", it's a bit too much.
And the fact that there is crime in other places too, doesn't justify the fact that it's also happening in Puerto Viejo. So open your eyes !
We travelled around for 15 days in Costa Rica, the ticos are really nice people, friendly and always helpful. And despite the frequent showers, broken bridges, landslides, road blocks etc.. we still had a good time. But in Puerto Viejo there are a few big problems :
1) The crime itself ofcourse
2) The police seems to be incapable of handling things.
3) The people who live in Puerto Viejo (or only the tourism business people ?) are minimalizing or even ignoring that these things happen. If they continue like that, within a few years they'll be living in a cult town, populated by a dozen of junks.