Being Precautious Is Best Advice
In general, books written for tourists, retirees and investors don't mention much about burglary and crime. They skip over the subject because delving into it might scare off possible arrivals. But feel that the story must be told as it really is with no sidetracking.
There are thieves and criminals all over the world and Costa Rica is no exception. But by taking the proper precautions, you can protect yourself and will have greater peace of mind. You won't find as many savage crimes that you hear about in the rest of the Central American countries. Costa Ricans seem to be more humane, at least up until now. If necessary, they'll shoot directly at you with a pistol, but won't chop you up into little pieces with a machete and throw them into a garbage bag as has happened many times throughout the rest of the region.
I don't want to scare you, but to feel greater security; it's a good idea to live in a house or apartment that has iron bars on its windows and doors. When a foreigner arrives in any of the larger cities in Costa Rica, one of the first things he notices is that practically all homes and commercial establishments are protected with iron bars. The dwelling won't gain in embellishment, but at least it will make you feel safer.
Barring windows and doors doesn't mean you're to be a target for burglars but it's simply a precaution to take. However, even these are not too safe if they're not made and installed properly. It's common for thieves to get their hands through window lattices and take articles left close-by. If you're to build your house, be sure to put bars. There are good artisans who do excellent ironwork and can make attractive designs for you.
First Time Robbed at Home Is A Record
In my 50 years of living in upscale residential areas in San José, my house has been broken into only once and that was during the day by two young men. While one stayed on a motorcycle with the motor on in front of the house, the other broke in by forcing the front door. Fortunately the only thing they stole was a TV set which the next day was to go to a repair shop. He did open drawers and closets and found no jewels or money.