theft in CR -- how bad is it REALLY?

Jun 30th, 2003, 07:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 7
theft in CR -- how bad is it REALLY?

Hi everyone,
First of all, wanted to say that this forum has been so incredibly helpful. Thank you all for contributing your stories and advice!!
Regarding theft in CR -- After reading all the postings and my travel books, I realize you must keep your wits about you while in CR. We're leaving on 7/4, are renting a car and will be navigating the roads on our own. On our drive between arenal and monteverde, I would love to stop at the botanical gardens. Is this smart to do? Our suitcase will be in the back of our 4x4. I'll be keeping all important documents on me. I've heard so many different things about the theft rate...and would hate to sacrifice an hour or 2 in the gardens because we'll be "in between" hotels. Any thoughts would be GREATLY appreciated!!! thank you all!
Brooke1 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2003, 10:19 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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You might be interested in a trip report from 5/17 of this year.
Do a search for-Costa Rica trip report-family travel.
You take your chances leaving your things in a car unattended. If the parking lot of the gardens you want to visit has a worker posted in the parking lot I would think it would be okay to leave it. Say hello to the person working and point out your car. A little something in his/her palm might help also. It is a sad but true problem in CR that cars left unguarded are robbed fairly frequently. This problem has increased over the years.
Suzie2 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2003, 01:09 PM
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Dear Brooke--
I don't want to alarm you, but on our last trip, my $800 camera was stolen from inside our rental car. The truth is that we were traveling with my 19 yr old daughter and her friend, and they were too ga-ga over some surfer dudes they'd seen to bother locking the doors.
In their defense, the rental cars have some antiquated locking system in which you MUST hold the door lock in when you shut the door or it doesn't lock. Our carelessness was a thief's reward.
It happened right outside a restaurant in which we were eating--in plain sight of dozens of passersby.
We reported it to the police who gave all appearances of trying to locate the camera...but, well, what are the odds, right?
The really bad part was that all our developed film was in the stolen camera case too.
So, I'd have to agree with Suzie that it's risky to leave ANY valuables in your car--locked or unlocked. Our car's locks had also been tampered with--perhaps on a previous rental.
beachmama7 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2003, 04:10 AM
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We did a really dumb thing during our first trip to Costa Rica and left a carry on bag sitting on the curb when we checked out of Si Como No in Manual Antonio. We didn't realize the bag was missing until several hours later when we arrived in San Jose.

We called the hotel and believe it or not, the bag was there. It did cost us quite a bit to have it sent home, but it was worth it. Not a thing was missing.
JeanH is offline  
Jul 1st, 2003, 04:49 AM
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Don't chance leaving ANYTHING in your car even with a guard present as sometimes they can be involved in the theft. We hear stories weekly from visitors who just left their car for a few minutes only to return with everything stolen. Check your bags at the hotel first.

Sailing is offline  
Jul 1st, 2003, 06:47 PM
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Be sure to notice that the one theft mentioned in this thread so far appears to be the result of a momentary lapse in concentration in the middle of an urban area where there is lots of traffic and some expensive-looking luggage was left unguarded. You just have to keep your wits about you and think ahead at all times. Its a lot like being in downtown LA or NY. Also like Beachmama, the trunk lock on our rental car appeared to have been tampered with when we picked it up.
dncee11 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2003, 10:32 PM
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Absolutely not. It doesn't matter where the tourist goes these days the predators follow. My last trip to CR, twp fools left their camera equipment in the trunk of the Car parked out front of their hotel, thinking it would be safe, guess what, the car was broken into and gone . Nobody Warned Them. Two Teacher left their dirty laudry in their car, while they checked into a hotel down there in CR, guess what, the dirty laudry, and everything else of value was gone. It took the thieves less than 10 minutes to do the job.

Talk to the locals , they get robbed constantly. Knew one guy who put in a new stereo one week, left in a guarded shopping plaza, guess what, the thieves got his stereo. He wondered why the guards didn't pick up on them, I suggested they were all in on it.
Knew a man who was transferred down there by his company, guess what, his apt. was cleaned out three times in two years.

Pick pocketing, razoring back packs, purses, slitting your trouser pockets, it all happens.

Costa Rica is big time on petty theft.
Leave anything of value at home, and never leave anything in your car. If you check into a hotel leave one person in the car to guard the stuff.

Down by Manueal Antonio and other beach spots, make sure one person stays and guards the towels, clothes, money, etc.

They hide in the trees and bushes and things dissappear. They have had problems in the hotels as well. Keep everything of value locked up.

Never experienced petty theft in Mexico the way it goes down in Costa Rica.

CaptMike is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2003, 06:19 AM
Original Poster
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thank you everyone for your's unfortunate that petty theft is such a common occurence down there. so we will make sure we're checked into our hotel before we explore the land! which leads me to my next question....all of the hotels we are staying in have a safe in the room. am i to trust that items in the safe will be secure? or should we have our valuables on us at all times?
Brooke1 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2003, 04:33 PM
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I don't know if I'm just lucky or what but I have been to CR 3 times - once for 1 week, twice for 2 weeks - with a family of 4 - and I have NEVER been a victim of any crime whatsoever (well, maybe I was over-charged for something!) Maybe part of the problem is that most of the people who do get ripped off don't tell their stories here because they feel like idiots when they realize they "dropped the ball" somehow and let their guard down. My final words - yes, you can get ripped off in CR but it does not have to happen if you are careful. Don't let this issue spoil your fun in a beautiful country full of mostly great people!
dncee11 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2003, 12:13 PM
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Dnce 11,

Like you, after reading this thread, I feel pretty lucky as well. We left our car unattanded, but locked, several times -- eating in restaurants mostly -- in CR. We always locked our luggage in the trunk and made sure not to leave anything inside the car that would make it a more appealing target.

We also left it for 3 nights in Puerto Jimenez in the parking lot of a small inn/pension where we stayed overnight. Of course, this time it was inside a locked and gated parking lot. We asked the owner to keep an eye on it and gave him $10 or so when we left for Corcovado. Again, no problems when we returned to the car.

TerriT is offline  
Jul 5th, 2003, 04:19 PM
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I have been traveling to CR for 11 years now and have never had a problem personally but saw a woman have her necklace ripped right off her neck in front of me. I never wear jewelry down there. Not even fancy looking fake stuff. I have spent as little as 10 days and as many as 5 weeks down there on my visits and travel alone part of that time because my husband goes back to work. You just have to hone up on your street smarts and not trust anyone. I travel light so I can keep track of everthing and hang on tight to it. We have made lots of Tico/Tica friends over the years but they have earned our friendship and vice versa. Put all of your valuables in a safe when you get to your hotel/lodge whatever, don't carry all your money with you and don't attract attention with fancy rings etc, you are only impressing the bad guys.
Suzie2 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2003, 10:10 AM
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Suzie, you have the right idea about the jewelry; my wife has some pretty nice stuff that she will wear all the time up here but when we go on vacation to a foreign country (CR or anywhere else) she leaves it at home and confines herself to the bare minimum in that dept. Same goes for men- there's nothing like a nice Rolex watch to make yourself a perfect target! To the rest of the world, you look like someone who can afford the loss so you make it easier for them to justify, as if they needed to!
dncee11 is offline  

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