I (Vicki Skinner - aka "THE Sarong Goddess") created this blog in 2007 to share DETAILED Finds•Lists•Info•Events•Experiences to help bring more EASE to people living in, visiting or thinking of moving to Costa Rica since DETAILS are NOT easy to find!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CRIME in Costa Rica - HALF+ go UN-Reported Supposidly

I am SOOOOOO NOT surprised by these 2 stories/editorials below as I have PERSONALLY KNOWN a LARGE percent of the people that I've encountered/known that have not reported the crimes that have been done to them (actually - MOST!!!).  WHY?  EACH has said "WHY BOTHER" as the system in Costa Rica is not set up TO CATCH the criminals, let alone prosecute them, let alone KEEP them in jail!!  So far - out of ALL the people I have PERSONALLY known/met that have been Home Invasioned, CarJacked, Shot, Robbed (ALL at gunpoint), stolen from - in the past 7-1/2 years - NOT ONE has been caught!!!  MANY were INSIDE JOBS (guards, bank employee, neighbor, employee)!!!  And SOME criminals have actually had the BALLS to CALL their victims to offer to sell the items BACK to them (brand new tourism vans that didn't even have their official registration on them so didn't have insurance yet since they couldn't drive it), computers+++!!! 

Ya wonder WHY MANY non-nationals are leaving Costa Rica - like I've NEVER seen in my 8-1/2 years coming/living here??  MIGHT this have a good % of WHY they're leaving?  It (and how EXPENSIVE Costa Rica has gotten) is a BIG factor from what they're sharing with me!!!

Why are MANY tourists NOT choosing to visit Costa Rica these days - either for a new visit or returning?  Word is OUT in the International Travel community of this problem and instead of trying to shut it up (or those people trying to help people)/hide it/"sweep it under the carpet" - it would be GREAT if $$$ was spent to help PREVENT the problem in the first place!!

This is a SERIOUS issue Costa Rica I REALLY hope Costa Rica addresses FAST as it's hurting the people (especially in their pockets - which hurts their families - which Costa Rica CLAIMS to be held so sacred)!!!  Of course the PEOPLE of Costa Rica that are SOOOOO effected by this serious problem can step up if their government won't!!!

I LOVE my life in Costa Rica (overall - though it's NOT without challenges - NO place is) but MOST IMPORTANTLY - I want to see it's PEOPLE be safe and successful!!!

(LASTEST - so now the president of Costa Rica wants to demand that drug dealers that are busted in other countries get extradited BACK to Costa Rica - can we say WTF????  PLEASE - can SOMEONE give me some LOGIC on this one??  Bring them back so they can walk if they didn't have any priors [like what's happened to some of the Shark Finners] or have small sentences like many crimes are here???  ANYONE???)

Survey says nearly 1/2 of crime victims stay mum

Barely half of thefts and robberies are being reported to authorities by Costa Ricans, according to CID/Gallup's most recent public opinion poll. 

In addition, as of September, 61 percent of Costa Ricans believe that crime is on the rise. For the past two years, crime has consistently been rated as the country's most pressing issue by participants in the survey.

However, 16 months ago 80 percent of Costa Ricans thought crime was on the rise, so the new numbers suggest a bleak but improving outlook on crime in the country.

The data comes from a three-times-per-year survey conducted by the Latin American polling company CID/Gallup. The survey is conducted in all Central American countries excluding Belize. But it includes the Dominican Republic. The survey is performed every January, May and September.

The survey is mostly concerned with public opinion on domestic politics. Crime is not a major part of the survey, but it is addressed each time.

Crime and delinquency has been listed as the most pressing national issue for participants in every survey in the past two years.

Surveyors found that citizens are still tense, but seeing improvements regarding crime frequency. The number of Costa Ricans who believe that crime is on the rise has dropped from 80 percent to 61 percent over 16 months, the polls found. In September, 32 percent believed crime was leveling off and 8 percent believed that crime was decreasing.

The survey always includes a question that is meant

to track robberies and thefts. That question asks  participants if someone in their home has been the victim of theft or robbery in the past four months.

This number has fluctuated over the past year. In January, 24 percent reported that a family member had been such a victim in the four preceding months.

The number was 20 percent in May and then 21 percent in September.

By this measure, Costa Rica had the second lowest rate of the seven countries surveyed. Nicaragua had the lowest rate with 19 percent.

The Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos's data from 2011 says there are about 1.3 million households in Costa Rica. So about 260,000 homes contained at least one person who was a victim of these crimes in the previous four months.

CID/Gallup asked for the first time in September if these victims of thefts and robberies reported the crimes. Only 51 percent of respondents said that the victim did go to the police after the incident. The survey clarifies what has been known for a long time: that many crime victims do not make a report. The exact percentage had not been known.

The survey does not ask how many people in the house were victims of these crimes or for any information that might show what demographics are being victimized the most. The survey also does not separate thefts and robberies.

Robos and asaltos have different definitions in Costa Rica than in the United States. An official from CID/Gallup explained that both are stealing, but robo is without the victim's immediate knowledge, in other words a U.S. theft, while asalto is by use of force or the threat of force, which is the definition of robbery in the United States.

 (SOURCE: Aaron Knapp  AMCostaRica.com  -  November 21, 2012)


An A.M. Costa Rica guest editorial
Crimes are not reported because investigators are ineffective

By Judy Griffith Gill*
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Is it any wonder theft goes under reported in Costa Rica?

Last year, people we know who own and operate a small hotel in Cahuita on the Caribbean coast were physically attacked in their beds by thieves who broke into their house in the night. The couple, asleep in an upstairs bedroom, were chloroformed.

She luckily got a smaller dose than her husband and woke up while the robbers were in the process of stripping out the hotel's electronic office equipment. She raised the alarm, and the thieves departed, largely empty-handed, though one had sustained a cut when they escaped with some bottles of liquor they'd grabbed on their way out.

The hoteliers immediately called the town police who did not bother to attend the scene. In the morning, however, judicial agents did come to investigate — but that is all they did. Yes, they could see that one of the thieves had left a hat and a shoe behind, both easily identifiable as belonging to a well-known member of the community.

The house and its contents were not dusted for fingerprints and neither was a bottle of booze the ladrones had dropped outside, though it had both blood and fingerprints on it. No, none of the evidence left at the scene would be of any value, not admissible in court, so nothing was to be done. Very sorry but —  (Insert helpless Tico shrug of indifference here).
Two months ago, when we returned from a trip to Canada, we found that, while we were away and the man who has cared for our small house during our absences over the past six years was in the hospital, our home had been burglarized and a good many items stolen. I had brand names, serial numbers and other identifying information for most of the stolen items and turned all that in to judicial agents, who were very polite and totally useless, again with the pseudo-apologetic shrug and a "Well, what can we do?" attitude.

"Are you going to check pawn-shops in Limón?" we asked. The answer, another shrug and "Even if we found your things, they'd be used as evidence should the thieves ever be found and prosecuted." 

So, do we get our possessions back when and if all the above happens? "Oh, 'evidence'  doesn't get returned to its rightful owners. No, no. It now belongs to the court."

In this country, where theft and the acceptance of it are viewed as a way of life, there appears to be little if any point in bothering to contact any branch of the police force because it, and the much vaunted court system are as thieving as the druggie on the corner wanting his next fix.

That, in my opinion, is why only about half of such crimes are reported. One either learns to accept the loss or get out.

* Ms. Gill is the author of over 50 published novels and lives on the Caribbean coast.



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