U.S. Embassy warns of safety threat in Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean region

Following a series of crimes targeting tourists, foreign residents and Costa Ricans along the southern Caribbean coast, the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday issued an alert on its website warning U.S. citizens living in or visiting Costa Rica to be cautious.

“Within the last few weeks, the Embassy has received increased reports of armed robberies of tourists in the Puerto Viejo area,” the embassy statement said. “In light of this situation, the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens living in or visiting the Puerto Viejo area to remain cautious and vigilant with regard to their personal safety and security.”

The embassy noted that in the past four weeks, three armed robberies of U.S. citizens occurred in the Puerto Viejo area, as well as armed invasions of two hotels and one residence.

“Police in Puerto Viejo have informed the Embassy that they are undertaking active preventative measures to avoid further incidents of this type. Armed robbery continues to be the primary criminal threat facing tourists in the Southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica,” the statement said.

Embassy officials urged crime victims to contact local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy. Consular officers can help visitors understand the local criminal justice process and find an attorney. For help, U.S. citizens should call +(506) 2519-2000.  

“Representatives of the U.S. Consular Section have conducted several visits to the area to provide assistance to those affected by crime, to meet with concerned U.S. citizens in the southern Caribbean and to urge the Costa Rican government to get out in front of this problem,” a separate embassy statement said.

For updated information on travel and security in Costa Rica, check with the U.S. State Department’s country-specific website, or call +1-888-407-4747 in the United States or +1-202-501-4444 outside the U.S.

The embassy also urged U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Costa Rica to enroll in the State Department’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” (STEP). STEP enrollment provides security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact citizens in an emergency. Travelers can download a free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Android market, the embassy said.