Theft and You (a must read)

From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips

Jump to: navigation, search

Theft and You in Costa Rica

Travel Costa Rica does not wish to scare you. We are merely reminding you of things you forgot you knew when traveling abroad. The majority of crime as it pertains to travelers (petty theft) in Costa Rica, can pretty much be avoided if you just follow of few simple rules. You will notice that these rules pretty much apply to any tourist destination in the world. For a somewhat different perspective on theft, read michael alan's blog

Where ever you are at any given time i.e., your surroundings be- attentive, watchful, aware, vigilant, ready to act, observant, on the alert, and on the ball.

“So, a guy that makes about a buck an hour sees this video camera sitting on the passenger seat of this car…” Never leave valuables in plain sight while in your car, even for an minute.

Pickpockets are mostly found in San Jose and they love to use distraction to relieve you of your valuables. Scam- Someone accidently spills something on you, and someone else playing the good Samaritan quickly arrives to help. Always keep your wallet and passport in your front pockets if you do have to carry your passport.

If a sketchy person approaches your vehicle while you are stopped at a traffic light or sign, sound the car horn and start foaming at the mouth as it’s all about perception.

When you can avoid it, never carry your passport with you. Instead, make a copy of the front page AND the page that has your entry stamp from immigration on it. This will usually suffice in a pinch.

Just because a person can speak English does not mean they are your friend.

If you become lost and you will if you’re driving around Costa Rica, try to find a public place, like a gas station, in order to read your map or ask for directions.

If someone tells you that something is wrong with your car, DO NOT pull over or stop immediately. Drive to the nearest gas station or to another well lighted public place.

If you get a flat tire shortly after picking up your rental car or coming out of a restaurant, be on the lookout for the good Samaritan (they’re everywhere) they miracously appear out of nowhere. This is another distraction and they’ve been doing this for awhile- one guy helps you with the tire and the other one helps himself to your stuff. I don't care if the tires are falling off the rims- DO NOT PULL OVER until you're in a safe place. I can't overstate this fact.

Do not keep valuables on the seat next to you or in the back seat when driving if the windows are down. They will reach in and they also like to snatch expensive sunglasses right off your head. If you think you should keep your windows up, then by all means, seems a little overly paranoid to me. *see the first rule.

In San Jose, park in one of the numerous parking garages, they’re secure and safe.

Unless you’re staying at a high end hotel, you should not leave your valuables in the trunk overnight, especially in the beach towns. Don’t hide your passport or any important items under the visor or under the seat of your car…..they know this one.

Don’t flaunt your jewelry. Actually, don’t bring it, your in Costa Rica for God sake.

Check the interior of your vehicle and surrounding areas before getting into your car.

When using the ATM, make sure it is well lit and don’t count your money right away.

Generally, you should NOT pick up hitchhikers.

Turn off your vehicle, roll up the windows and lock the doors ANYTIME you leave the car, regardless of how long you’ll be away.

If you suspect that you are being followed while driving or walking, immediately head to the nearest well lit public area and call the police.

With due diligence, you should have no problem traveling around Costa Rica.
With due diligence, you should have no problem traveling around Costa Rica.

Bars, restaurants, discos and outside patios etc. Do Not leave your purse, bags, backpack, cameras hanging from the chair or barstool, or on the floor or on the table. *see the first rule.

When carrying a purse, bag or day pack, hold it in front of you close to your body.

You can also apply these rules if you’re at the beach, but as a reminder- don’t leave your stuff unattended, and don’t leave ANYTHING in your car while at the beach.

Always try to walk in groups if you can.

If, on the rare occasion, you find yourself in a hostile situation, give them what they want. Serious injury or death in another country while on vacation; is such a buzz kill. In case of emergency call 911 from any telephone. The operator is probably NOT going to know English.

Again, this isn’t a Costa Rica thing; this is a common sense thing. Ever go visit the Vatican in Rome- all these rules apply there as well. But you do NOT have to be a victim of theft. *see the first rule.