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Knowing what to expect and taking precautions will give you a better chance to enjoy your holiday and go home with a very positive experience, which in fact and of course most people do!
Let’s face it; Costa Rica is a developing Latin American country so conditions will be different from the USA, Canada, Europe etc.
Costa Rica lies between the biggest drug producing country (Colombia) and biggest drug consuming country (USA) in the Americas and there fore there is a steady flow of drugs going from South to North through Latin America.
As is the case with many developing countries, Costa Rica has limited funds and consequently most of the police force is understaffed and inadequately trained. On top of that, the law and the historical and cultural attitude towards crime do not help.
Opportunistic theft and drug related crime is what you need to worry about. Since the financial crisis there has been an increase and due to the current legal system, the perpetrators can get away with it too easily, which is like an invitation for some to join the bad apples.
What you can do and…
Tips for a better stay
It’s very clear that apart from cash, stuff like iPhones, iPods, cell phones, credit cards, laptops, cameras, jewellery and passports are the “hot” items. So carry as little as possible and leave your valuables at home or in a safe where you are staying.
It’s also clear that after dark it’s much better to take a taxi instead of walking home or using a bike.
Getting drunk or buying drugs will attract unwanted attention.
Just realise, anybody buying drugs is part of the problem!
Please read the following tips
• Don’t carry much money on you and if you feel you have to, have a little bit in your pocket and put the main amount somewhere hidden.
• Don’t walk around with your expensive iPhone or cell phone or iPod or your camera hanging around your neck.
• Leave your passport in your safe, carry a copy.
• You need a copy of the page with your photo and a copy of the page with the entry stamp
• Don’t take anything valuable to the beach, choose a spot where you can get someone you trust to look after your belongings when going into the water.
• After dark, don’t walk or use a bicycle, use a taxi or your car. Of course, in the centre, after dark on the main streets it should be fine.
• Don’t leave ANY valuables unattended in your car, not even in the trunk.
• A common trick is to puncture your car tyres and when you pull over, some people will come and “offer help”. They then try and divert your attention and one of them takes off with your belongings. Better to keep driving if possible and to stop where there are more people around, ideally a gas station or police station or a restaurant.
• A similar trick is to bump slightly into the back of your car, don’t stop and drive on to a safe place.
• If threatened, don’t resist, give them what they want and get help. This may depend on the situation.
• Don’t buy drugs and if drugs are offered, tell the staff of the establishment and go to a safer place.
• Being drunk makes you an easy victim.
• It is much better to be in a group than alone.
• If you do become a victim, ask for help and take the help that is offered and report; every correctly made report will help make this a better destination.
• If you feel you need to bring your laptop (why would you, think about it!) install something like “preyproject) which gives the chance to locate it when stolen, it’s free.
• For a mobile phone, make sure you get the IMEI code, which gives you the possibility to make your phone useless for a thief.
With knowing what you are up against and with being cautious you will have a great time in Costa Rica, ENJOY!!