There's considerable crime in Belize City, but it rarely involves visitors. When it does, Belize has a rapid justice system: the offender often gets a trial within hours or days and, if convicted, can be sent to prison ("the Hattieville Ramada") the same day. Tourist police patrol Fort George and other areas of Belize City where visitors convene. Police are particularly in evidence when cruise ships are in port. If you avoid walking around at night (except in well-lighted parts of the Fort George area), you should have no problems in Belize City.
Outside of Belize City, and possibly the rougher parts of Dangriga and Orange Walk Town, you'll find Belize to be safe and friendly. Petty theft, however, is common all over, so don't leave cameras, cell phones, and other valuables unguarded.
Thefts from budget hotel rooms occur occasionally. Given the hundreds of thousands of visitors to Belize, however, these incidents are isolated, and the vast majority of travelers never experience any crime in Belize.
The road from the Belize border toward Tikal has long been an area where armed robbers stopped buses and cars, and there also have been incidents at Tikal Park itself. In mid-2011 murderous attacks on Guatemalan farm workers and Guatemalan government officials in the Petén (including the decapitation of more than two-dozen workers on a farm southwest of Flores) allegedly by members of Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel prompted the U.S. Embassy in Belize to "strongly recommend against" travel to Flores and Tikal, but that has since been lifted. Ask locally about crime conditions before traveling to Tikal.
If you are an American citizen, consider enrolling in the U.S. Statement Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui), which makes it easier to locate you and your family in case of an emergency. Many other countries have similar programs.
Concerns for Women
Many women travel alone or in small groups in Belize without any problems. Machismo is not as much a factor in the former British Honduras as it is in Latin countries in the region. Unfortunately, in the past Guatemala has been the site of some disturbing assaults on women. These have occurred on buses, usually late at night in remote areas. Women should avoid making such trips alone. A more common complaint is catcalling, which is typically more of an annoyance than a legitimate threat. Most women, locals and foreigners alike, try to brush it off. That said, however, women make up a large percentage of the travelers in Guatemala, and the vast majority have positive experiences.
Most Belizeans and Guatemalans are extremely honest and trustworthy. It's not uncommon for a vendor to chase you down if you accidentally leave without your change. That said, most organized scams arise with tours and packages, in which you're sold a ticket that turns out to be bogus. Arrange all travel through a legitimate agency, and always get a receipt. If a problem does arise, the Belize Tourism Board or INGUAT may be able to help mediate the conflict.
Advisories and Other Information
Transportation Security Administration (866/289–9673. www.tsa.gov.)
U.S. Department of State (www.travel.state.gov.)