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Jaco Beach Crime Tombstone Style

Jan 26

Costa Rica Police StationSo much has been in the news about violence in Mexico tourist towns that there is a heightened awareness of Jaco Beach crime and violence taking place in all tourist locations. As with all advertising driven news organizations, wherever there is drama to reveal that can drum up Neilsen ratings a story will be told. It does not matter if the story is out of context or pigeonholing Jaco is the result. With all of the emails asking about the safety here in Jaco and what the murders in recent weeks have been about, we will try at least to lay it out what is known around town and not in the new media.

Jaco Beach Crime Rumors

There has been rumors for years that Jaco real estate developers secretly promised to rid Jaco of the drug menace, specifically the street corner types who ask everyone and their mother if they want to buy some drugs. Without going into the political aspects of drug “war” and its stupid enforcement, (oops, that was a little political…I guess my views are known. Ask me if I care:-) simple courtesy dictates that a family walking down the street with little kids does not need to be approached and asked if they want to buy crack. It is just stupid and those types of people do not have a place IMO anywhere in the world. If you want drugs, you know where to find them. There have been too many comments on sites like Trip Advisor and local sites where people say they will never come back to Jaco because of how insulting it was for them to be harassed in front of their kids and worrying about teen kids going out at night for a walk to ever come back to Jaco or Costa Rica. Then there is the crowd that says “go to Guanacaste” where it is mostly resorts but do you really need to travel to Costa Rica to get a packaged vacation? What is the point, to travel to Costa Rica and stay at the Four Seasons and be insulated from the locals? Sorry, don’t answer! That is another post.

Anyhoo, rumors abound that developers have promised buyers that they were/are working with the Costa Rican government and local government to rid the city of these petty drug dealers. How they were going to do this was varied as how many days in a year. However, with the recent murders or point blank executions of street drug dealers many locals have said maybe there is some truth to the rumors? I doubt it. In Costa Rica and Jaco, trying to keep a secret is like trying to “stay in the closet” in Washington DC, it simply cannot be done. There are too many expats with nothing to do like in Tamarindo that just love to “let me tell you how it is” or “I know the real story behind this…or that…” In fact, we have thought for years to put together a site just like the one found in Tamarindo rumors for locals but since Jaco is so small, it would be so easy for one person to know who was telling what. Therefore, despite the media making a mountain out of a molehill the murders were of done by a person on a motorcycle and in one case, a mistaken drug dealer was killed instead of the intended target. Now if you have been reading this post, you should be asking yourself, how the hell does anyone know if the target was a mistake? Wouldn’t that mean that the person who ordered the killing or the person who did the shooting, talked about it? Again, Jaco is a small town you cannot keep a secret for long.

Jaco Beach Crime Reality

If you are a tourist coming to Jaco and have no intention on setting up a drug network you will be fine. 99.5% of all tourists return home without a hitch which is why Jaco is so popular. If media reports were to believed, Jaco would be the next O.K. Corral but that is just because they want to get ratings not because they are actually interested in telling the real story. The truth of the matter is, Jaco is located in a country that cannot police itself or manage its independence without outside influence therefore, you will have many bigshots including drug kingpins who are often smarter than the politicians since they are the first to understand that bad PR will hurt their business. Locally, most businesses will have you believe this is the Garden of Eden but it is not. Jaco is just like any other city in the world with its scum, god fearing people, hard workers, leeches, and mostly wonderful people doing the best they can given their circumstances. I love reading or listening to people who come for a weekend or more and are now an authority on Jaco Beach crime and Costa Rica tourism. What happens here in the states, happens in Costa Rica but what kills me is how people go to Costa Rica and leave their common sense at home. I know I would not be looking to score some “smoke” at 63rd and Cottage Grove here in Chicago, it is just plain F–cking Stupid but somehow tourists seem to think common sense does not apply while on vacation.

Peeps, when planning on your visit to Costa Rica make sure you pack your common sense along with a toothbrush, you will have a better vacation with fresher breath and not become a victim of Jaco Beach crime.

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Category: Jaco Beach News  | Tags: , ,  | 2,917 views

7 Responses

  1. 1
    Tim P. 

    After traveling through Jaco for the last twenty years, it finally happened. We had driven down from San Jose after our flight in and had to stop for a quick bite in Jaco. Our cars were fully loaded with luggage and we parked them in plain view of the open air restaurant L’Esperanza. It was daylight and we watched the cars carefully. On the drive out, we noticed a backpack missing with two passports, $500 cash, Ipod, cell phone and most of one persons clothes.

    Somehow, a crook had jimmied the door and made off with it(the backpack) and a girl’s purse. The local police could not (would not?) file a report. Of course there were no witnesses, although I noted some peculiar activities by a few street (people) and (street) vendors as if they were looking at something. We filed a report with the police the next morning, suspended cell phone service and continued on our vacation. It was interrupted by the flight back to San Jose to the US Embassy to acquire new passports, but otherwise was a cautionary travel through southern Costa Rica where we encountered much better manners.

    Advice for travel anywhere near Jaco: keep your most valued possessions in contact with your person and be aware of your surroundings to avoid even the slightest vulnerability. We have phone numbers called using the stolen phone that I will follow up on with the police.

    One study that I was made aware of which was done by interviewing 400 people exiting Costa Rica, found that over half had been robbed, some by gunpoint.
    Travelers beware.

  2. 2

    Greetings Tim,

    We appreciate you taking the time to send in your comments and disappointed your group experienced the crime. It is a horrible aspect of traveling in Costa Rica and one that the government needs to take more notice of. Once a tourist is treated with the second of the two faced ticos, their travel experience is marred by that experience. A few people noted with us that they were not so much upset by the theft of their possessions but by the lack of compassion and response by the police and the community. The issue is so common that expats who live in Costa Rica are no longer surprised and reactive to the crimes.

    When Nicaragua was without Ortega, there was a big vacuum sound coming from there because people were so sick of the lack of responsiveness by the Costa Rican government for all things related to them. Residencies, investments, visas, tourist crime were all high agenda items and was very successful in attracting people tired of Costa Rica. Time will tell what happens but it is hard for the Tourism Minister to worry when the number in visitors keeps going up each year. Only when tourism goes down will they begin to look at “causes”

  3. 3
    Sassy Prada 

    Unbelievable experience in Jaco at L’Esperanza – one bill, the handwritten one, was for more than the digital bill. We called the police. One policeman recognized the disparity, then was sent away and was not “allowed” to return to the scene to help. The second policeman was entirely blind to the problem and unconcerned that tourists were being ripped off. The owners of this restaurant are not Costa Rican and are abusing their welcome and abusing the Costa Rican people who work for them by treating people in this manner. Such total b.s. Are you all going to stand for that? Or are you going to man up and do the right thing? You want us to spend our money here? Really? What are you willing to do to protect us from the crime? Stop the corruption. We’re leaving your city… spend our money elsewhere.

  4. 4

    We are so sorry Sassy you had this experience. Honestly, when the place was Colonial Restaurant, it was a genuine rip-off then, and I guess with you experience it is still that. Until you wrote this comment, I did not even realize it changed names.

    Comments like these are helpful to other visitors to Jaco. You might want to add your comments to which has a rating system for the restaurant. It is possible, you can find a resolution through them as well if desired.


  5. 5

    Having lived in Costa Rica for 15 years and in Jaco for 4 months just recently, I’ve heard several people lament the loss of their passports. As someone here inferred, don’t leave your common sense back home when you travel, whether here in CR or anywhere. Jaco has no more thieves per capita than any vacation destination. When riding the bus, keep your bas in sight. the one containing your passport on your lap. Don’t be stupid, don’t be trusting, do be aware of your surroundings. Jaco is no more dangerous than any other place – they are all dangerous. Criminals know that vacationers do dumb things and they capitalize on them. If you have young girls in your party, don’t let them go out alone at night. Go with them and have fun. Temptations abound in Jaco, for the young and the wanna-be young. Realize that the pretty girls in the tight, short skirts don’t want sex, they want money or they wouldn’t be there. It is not that they are criminals, it is that they want and need your cash, your wallet, your credit cards, your watch, and your passport. Don’t be stupid. Have your fun but keep your wits about you. Jaco and Costa Rica in general will be terrific experiences for you Also, San Jose, contrary to some who obviously only went to the Del Ray is not the armpit of the country; Playa Viejo is. No, I do not work for a travel agency, the CR Tourism Board, or Day Star. I’m just someone who accepts the differences in culture between the US and Costa Rica.

  6. 6

    This is great advice Boston, straight and to the point but trying to differentiate yourself as being more accepting than our guest bloggers or the jaco locals is not endearing. It is as if to say that, if we adopted an attitude of acceptance it somehow makes the theft okay. I get your point but I think having said all of the above in your comment, you could have left the last sentence off and been done with it. Just my two colones

  7. with all due respect, I’m in Jaco at the moment and I’ve seen a bunch of naive and new travelers. Last night I saw a guy leave his iphone on the side table and walk away…and his reason why he didn’t pick it up (when we all yelled at him :) was because it was his girlfriends phone. Keep your sh*t next to you. If you can’t do that, you are traveling too heavy.
    sidenote:I’ve been testing the local environment… leaving hats, money and little things around. A little trail of tourist breadcrumbs. Trying to see just where the line is, then making sure I stay inside it.

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