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Our Tips on Crime and Safety in Costa Rica

Crime in Costa Rica

This article is not intended to scare you or make you worried during your vacation. However, it is important to understand crime and safety in Costa Rica, since it reduces the chance of anything bad happening to you. This will allow you to enjoy your hard-earned vacation here in Costa Rica. I have lived here for about 20 years, and other than maids picking the odd thing up, I have not had any horrific experiences. But, facts are facts. Let’s start by acknowledging that Costa Rica is a developing country with policing standards that fall short of those in Canada, the United States, or even Europe.

Petty Theft

Costa Rica is situated in the middle of drug-producing countries such as Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia, as well as the main consumer, the United States, making it a transit country. Because of a lack of resources, the police force is understaffed and undertrained by our standards. The jail system is overcrowded due to a lack of funding, and many criminals remain on the streets when they should be locked up. You should be on the lookout for petty theft and drug-related crime.

Here are a few tips and recommendations:


Costa Rica has a large number of ATMs. You do not need to carry a lot of cash with you. If you need to withdraw a big sum of money from the bank or convert dollars to colones, request an envelope (sobre). Don’t just stuff your money in your pockets. Ask the teller to put your money in it behind the counter.


Keep your phone hidden from view. Carrying it in your hand or back pocket is simply too much of a temptation.

Your passport is a valuable item that may fetch a high price, so please keep it secure and have a duplicate with you at all times as required by law. A copy of the page with your photo and a copy of the page with the entrance stamp are required so that they can verify that you are not overstaying your visa.

While at the beach enjoying the sun and surf, it is not a good idea to take valuables with you, unless you have a trusted partner or friend to keep an eye on your things.

If at all possible, leave your valuables in your hotel safe and avoid bringing anything with you in your car or even your trunk (unless your trunk is very secure).


Bad guys will puncture your tire with a small object, causing you to lose air while you are driving and have to pull over. At that point, one will offer you help and the partner will empty your car while you are distracted.

Take a taxi anytime you can at night time. Do not walk or bike after dark. If possible, travel in pairs or, better yet, in a group

Don’t become a target by being drunk or high in public.

If confronted or threatened, do not resist, give them what they want. Everything you have is replaceable. But you are not!

Find more information about crime here – Costa Rica 2020 Crime & Safety Report


Keep your wits about you at all times and notify the police if you have been a victim of theft or violence.

If you follow these suggestions, you will have a great time while vacationing here.

Pura Vida!

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