More than 90% of the country’s crimes are committed in the capital city of San Jose. Even so, when compared to other major cities around the world – Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York or Paris – San Jose’s streets are quite safe. Most of the crimes committed in San Jose are non-violent. However, the number of petty crimes like mugging, pickpocketing, jewelry and purse snatching, and more recently, kidnapping and carjacking – has increased slightly over the last few years.
When visiting San Jose, travelers should use the same common sense and precautions that they would in any other large city. While the streets are relatively safe during the day, it is recommended that visitors, especially women, do not walk alone after dark.
Additional caution should be taken at bus terminals, especially when headed to the beaches or more remote areas of the country. The Coca Cola station, where buses depart to the Guanacaste and Puntarenas beaches, is notorious for petty crime. Never leave your bags unattended.
The financial district, between Calle 8 and Calle 13 and the streets surrounding Banco Central, Plaza de la Cultura, Parque Central, Barrio Amon and Parque Morazan, are also areas with increased crime rates. You should be careful during the daytime and avoid these areas altogether between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Stay alert and be aware of your personal belongings when wearing a backpack. If possible, carry backpacks and bags in front of you and hold them closely to your body.
Common Tourist Scams:
Someone slashes one of your car tires. When you pull over to inspect the damage, the thieves show up and offer to help. While they change your tire, they also steal the valuables out of your car.
This scam is very common at car rental agencies near the airports. Be sure to inspect the tires of your rental vehicle before leaving the airport. When you rent a car, its always a good idea to purchase insurance for local theft. Never leave valuables in the vehicle and park in secured lots when possible.