San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

One in Three Families Is the Victim of Crime

A member of 38.7% of Costa Rican families became the victim of a crime in 2004 – nearly double the 20% registered in 1986, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) study released this week.


The data forms part of the report “Defeating Fear: Citizen Insecurity and Human Development,” researched in 2004 and released yesterday by UNDP.


“Although Costa Rica has one of the lowest rates of criminality in Latin America, you can detect an increase in the level of criminal violence in the country,” said José Manuel Hermida, resident representative of UNDP in Costa Rica.


“It’s not foreigners who commit the crimes, contrary to what the majority of Costa Ricans think,” he continued. According to the report, 89% of delinquents are Costa Rican, 5.8% are Nicaraguan and 1.7% are Colombian.


The most common victims of crimes – 31.5% – are men between 25 and 34 years old, from a high economic level. Hermida said that applying a “heavy hand” against crime will not solve insecurity, and “we need a new model composed of prevention, control and protection of human rights.”


The study recommends ten strategies to combat crime, such as generating safe urban environments, strengthening public institutions, improving equality and increasing attention to young people.


According to UNDP, Costa Rica invests 3.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in combating crime.


The report is based on official data and a poll of 2,400 people throughout the country, with a margin of error of 3%.


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