Monday, May 16, 2011

Crime and Personal Safety in Belize

It is easy to talk about all the wonderful things I love about Belize, what’s not to love about the beautiful turquoise blue green waters, the lush green jungles or the ancient Maya ruins. But like any place, there is crime and Belize is no different. 

It would be difficult to compare crime statistics from one country to another because of different record keeping and recording systems. The murder rate in Belize for 2008 was reported to be 34.2; which means for every one hundred thousand citizens, 34 were victims of murder in 2008. Compare this to the United States in 2008 where there were 5.4 murders per 100,000 people.

Most serious crimes in Belize are primarily connected to drugs. While there are gangs in Belize City, it is nothing like those compared to other Central American countries.

Although Americans are not specifically targets of crime, you should always exercise caution where ever you travel throughout the country. The majority of reported incidents are in Belize City, but crimes may occur anywhere including tourist destinations. Statistics suggest that the crimes are concentrated among the native lower classes, not aimed at travelers. 

The last time I was in Belize, I spoke to a woman that has lived in Belize for over 6 years. She told me that she had been robbed several times and had her purse stolen.  My first thought was to be very scared. She then told me that all of the incidents were her own fault. She said she had been out late, by herself and had been drinking. She was never harmed, but these types of situation you should always avoid, especially females.

Travel Safety Tips
Travel in groups during daylight hours and do not walk in unlit areas at night.
Avoid wearing flashy jewelry.
Do not carry expensive items.
Do not leave valuables unatteneded.
Woman should not carry large purses and keep purses zipped.
Men should carry their wallets in their front pockets.
Do not carry large sums of cash.
Carry cash in different places.
Do not pick up strangers in your car.

Most crimes that I have heard of in Belize are petty theft crimes. Someone left something unattended.  Shoes were left outside on the porch or they parked their bike and did not lock it up only to come back later to find them missing.

Burglar bars on homes in Belize are not always meant to keep out burglars. Many homes do not use air conditioning and therefore keep their windows open.  Burglar bars are used to keep animals out when the windows are open.

Tips for avoiding home theft and burglaries
I am told the best thing you can do is to get a dog. I think this is true no matter where you live.
Have a fence or wall around your property.
Install an alarm system or burglar bars.
Install exterior lighting around your home.
Get involved with your neighborhood watch program. Yes they have these in Belize.

Someone emailed me a few weeks ago and asked me "if I felt safe in Belize and if there were areas in Belize where I would not go"? I told him "I probably would not be in Belize City after dark". But I also told him where I live, drive 20 minutes and there are certain areas "I would not go day or night either, because I know they carry guns there". I have never felt anything but safe when in Belize and in talking to most expats and retirees living in Belize they expressed little concern about their safety and were happy with their decision to move to Belize.

Photo: Oracio Alvarado, Flickr


  1. My family is from Belize so this blog caught my eye. My mother's side of the family is still there

  2. Thanks for stopping by. Where is your family in Belize?

  3. Hi Bill & Debra,

    My husband and I are considering retiring in Belize. We've read that the expat community's houses are often targeted for robberies. In your opinion, is this statement accurate? (We're allergic to animals so the dog option is out : )

    How is the area of placencia in regards to home break-ins? Do most people hire a caretaker whenever they want to visit family, go on excursions, etc?

    We'd really value your opinion on this. Thanks in advance for your response.


    1. Laura if you will email so I have your email address I will give you my opinion. It's more than I can write on my blog. Debra


Leave a comment "dear friend"