A United Nations survey shows that Ticos (Costa Ricans) are worried about street crime despite having a country that is the safest in the region, reported The Tico Times on line edition. The local murder rate had declined by 15% last year, but rose again in 2013.

Puntarenas-Fiscalia-OIJ-ANDRES-GARITA_LNCIMA20131029_0030_1Last year, the country was one of only four in Latin America that had a decline in violence–the others were Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador. But this year, the rate of murders is averaging one every 24 hours, noted the newspaper.

Some 300 homicides were recorded between Jan. 1 and October this year, according to investigative agency OIJ records. “Latin America is the most unequal and insecure region in the world, despite showing economic growth and social improvement,” read the report.

Crime and violence cost the country $915 million — 2.5% of its gross domestic product in 2010, the paper reported. By contrast, Honduras which still maintains its position as the most violent country in the world outside a combat area such as Syria or Afghanistan, suffers 10.5% of its GDP as a cost of violent crime.

This reflects not only costs for health care and law enforcement but penalties in low foreign investment. For example, so overwhelmed are Costa Rican police that they employ 500 private guards per 100,000 persons. This is still lower than the 800 per 100,00 of Guatemala, Honduras, Panama or Brazil.

One in five Costa Ricans said that organized crime and drug related violence is a major threat to public security and one-third said this had caused them to cut back on their entertainment activities.

The Tico Times on line news organization also reported that non-violent crimes such as burglaries are a grave problem that does not spare even public figures. Citizen Action Party (PAC) lawmaker candidate Epsy Campbell recently lost about $10,000 in stolen goods from her home.

While the popular lawmaker was vacationing in the Caribbean, thieves made off with TV sets, computers, phones, jewelry and Campbell’s passport. Campbell and her family had just moved to Heredia, reported the paper, after her home in Coronado, north of San Jose, had been burglarized three years ago,

The petite legislator who served a term in 2002-06 in the Legislative Assembly also had the ill luck to have been mugged while serving her first term. Other prominent crime victims this year were Education Minister Leonardo Garnier and Libertarian lawmaker Patricia Perez.

Article by iNews.co.cr

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