How is the Crime in Costa Rica ?
With the news media hammering all day about crime in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala it is a fair question to ask – what about Costa Rica. After all we are in the same geographical area.
Inside Costa Rica the general perception of the population is that insecurity and crime are on the rise in Costa Rica. As such there is no surprise that many polls demonstrate that one of the top concerns of citizens in Costa Rica is security. However, in order to put perceptions and actual numbers in perspective I have set forth some of the crime statistics below:
The State of The Nation (Estado de La Nacion) report evaluated crime statistics for Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica the homocide rate has generally been below 10 per 100,000 inhabitants. The graph below shows the homocide rate from 2003 to 2013. Just as a comparison point in other countries of Central America the rate is much higher. For example in El Salvador the rate is 41.2 per 100,000 and in Guatemala it is 39.9 and Honduras is 51.49.
For 2014 Costa Rica reported 453 homocides for a rate of 9.5 per 100,000 inhabitants. Most of the homicides 30% to 40% are drug related.
In the following graph you can see the comparison of the homocide rates in Latin America.
Within Costa Rica the following chart shows which town and cities within Costa Rica have the higher incidence of Crime.
The cases of Assault were 13,647 in 2013 which was a 22.8% uncrease over the previous year. Here is the breakdown of the statistic from 2009-2013
For home invasions the statistics for 2009-2013 are as follows
A common complaint among citizens is that there is not enough police presence. As such, I was surprised with the comparisons below which puts Costa Rica at comparable levels with other countries.
Source: Public Intelligence.net
The Costa Rican Criminal Code and Justice System rely heavily on rehabilitation and as such is light on punishment. There is no law that punishes repeat offenders and hence the public perception that the criminal justice system is just a revolving door. The current model dates back to the 1970’s and Costa Rica needs to take a closer look at the current system.
You can view the criminal statistical report developed by the Costa Rican O.I.J. (Oraganismo de Investigacion Judicial) which is the Costa Rica investigative police service.