Costa Rica Crime / Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

Costa Rica Managing to Contain Crime in Difficult Circumstance Says Security Minister

Despite the pandemic and economic crisis facing Costa Rica, Security Minister remains cautiously optimistic about crime. The latest stats seem to prove him correct.

When Costa Rica locked down this year, unemployment and poverty soared. Many commenters and pundits predicted a sharp rise in crime as desperation rose. But that doesn’t seem to have happened, at least not to the extent some expected.

In fact, according to Michael Soto, the Security Minister, property crime and assault have gone down in 2020.

Speaking last week and reported today in CRHoy, Soto said police data showed a 32% decrease in property crime and 5,000 fewer assaults compared to 2019 so far.

This comes as a positive and welcome surprise to many. It’s also a tribute to the people of Costa Rica who’ve shouldered impossible burdens in 2020.

“This has been a complex year,” said Soto. “The police have had to work with ordinary crime, organized crime, the pandemic, social unrest, and also natural phenomena. With all this we’ve managed to contain crime.”

Homicides, the general measure of how safe or dangerous a country one deems a country, have not decreased, though.

The numbers remain similar to last year. So far in 2020 (up to November 20), Costa Rica has recorded 509 homicides. In 2019, Costa Rica saw 565 homicides.

The good news is that homicides have been on a downward trend since 2017. That was the most violent year in Costa Rica’s history with 603 murders and a homicide rate of 12.1 per 100,000.

That number dropped through 2018 and 2019. The current homicide rate, based on 2019’s figures, is 11.0 per 100,000. That’s still high, but getting lower.

With December to come, 2020 is projected to close with a slight increase in homicides compared to 2019. According to OIJ statistics, over the past five years, homicides during December come in at around one per day.

Still, given the current circumstances, it’s not as bad as it could have been. And according to Soto, authorities will work hard to make Costa Rica register fewer homicides than last year.

When it comes to crime in Costa Rica, especially common crimes like assault and robbery, critics can say the numbers are way higher than reported.

And that’s true – a great number of crimes go unreported in Costa Rica, as many people see no point in calling the police.

But even so, the fact that reported crime numbers are not soaring in the way many expected is a real credit to Costa Ricans.

It seems that despite the hardships of unemployment and economic disaster, Ticos are sticking together as a community rather than turning on each other. That’s commendable and something to be thankful for.

James Dyde is the editor of www.centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.