You’re not in Kansas anymore !
As a Travel Writer and adventurer my shoes, boots and sandals have traveled much of the world. I would say I am quite worldly. If you ask my wife about how she feels traveling anywhere with me, and I mean anywhere, she will use one descriptive word,
My background created who I am, good or bad, always alert, always looking for trouble, always prepared to deal with it. It’s a blessing and a curse, but if you ask my wife, she’s learned a lot about travel and safety from me.
Whether you are traveling as a tourist in Europe, Asia, South America or even many cities in the U.S., you should be aware of your surroundings, where the crime is more likely to occur, and what you should look out for. Most countries you know before you visit, many you find out by just Googling.
And then there’s Belize, Central America.
When I started researching Belize to visit the first time, I did my research and checked out local blog posts, and of course, International Living Magazine.Pretty much, all I found was the same statements. First, Belize City wasn’t a good place to hang out because thats where all the murders and crimes are committed by the gangs. The second statement, “Crimes of opportunity are what you will find in Belize”. “Don’t leave camera’s or such on the seat of your golf cart”, “Don’t leave towels on your rental porch”.” It’s petty crime that tourists complain about”.
“Don’t be Goofy..and leave valuables in your golf cart rental”
I can’t justify talking about crime in Belize before I first started visiting, or moved to this country, but I can since. There is crime here in Belize, and over the past few years, it has become violent in some cases. No, it’s not like Detroit or Chicago, but never less, its here, and you need to be aware of it. Nobody wants to talk about it, especially the government.Why you might ask? The primary industry of this country is tourism. So, advertising the fact that when you are here you might be a target, so be aware isn’t a great “marketing plan for success”. Whether its the hotels, resorts or home rentals on VRBO or HomeAway or the like, nobody will tell you to be careful.
You may bring expensive jewelry but keep it in the safe!
In Southern Belize last year a woman was murdered late in the day on a secluded beach near her resort while she practiced yoga, alone. It has been stated that the resort staff warned her not to do this multiple times for safety reasons, but she continued. A few weeks ago there were reportedly “Home Invasions” to Expats in the Northern Corozal area of Belize.
As you all know, I am down here in Belize while our new house is being built. I’ve been here for the past few months, and have learned first hand that there’s more serious crimes than I thought, and I’m glad I now know the truth. Homes vacant and occupied are frequently broken into, more often than not, they are houses of Expats that leave them vacant and only come down a few weeks a year. Some are homes that are rented out, and in some cases, these have been invaded at night by armed criminals. Yes, that’s a fact.
Don’t think this can’t or won’t happen to you!
I have been told that as a rule, most new homes are broken into within weeks of purchase or finished construction.
Just a few weeks ago on the Placencia Peninsula, a occupied home was entered by three armed Belizean men. There were four U.S. citizens in the house, make and female, who chose to resist the robbery. They proceeded to throw anything they could get their hands on, TV’s, lamps, etc. at the robbers, who did flee, after firing one shot.
Security alarms are only as effective as the response to them.
Although statistically this probably won’t happen to you, there are things you can do whether visiting or living here in Belize, to prevent to be a victim.
- Don’t walk around dressed like you are rich, fancy dresses, jewelry, expensive camera’s and iPad, etc.
- Don’t pullout a wallet of $100 bills in a big wad.
- Don’t buy the house “bar” a round, repeatedly.
- Be aware of hitchhikers, they may be watching how long you are away from house or looking for patterns in order to rob you.
- If a home owner or renting a home, lock doors and windows at night. Just because nobody warned you, that warm ocean breeze you are enjoying might cost you your valuables, or your life.
- If living in or renting a house, make sure there are outdoor security lights that work, either on all night, or ones that kick on with movement.
- If you are renting a house or cabana, make sure you ask the questions, are there working security lights outside the house? Do the windows and doors lock and are they secure?
- Make sure that your rental and house has a secured in place safe for your belongings, like cash, passport, credit cards (only carry the one you want to use).
- If you have a house or are building one, do you have a “safe room” in it? You should plan on one if building, where you can lock yourself in with your phone to call help, with door secured. Make sure its a solid door on it, especially if you use a bathroom, that usually has a hollow door. Everyone should remember The Shining, and “Here’s Johnny”!
- Always program the local police telephone number on “speed dial”.
You never want to see this, but if you do, are you prepared?
Please know that I am not trying to scare you, or discourage you from coming to Belize, but rather to make you aware of the facts. This isn’t the U.S. with massive police forces, alarm companies that have response teams, or a firearm in every home. This is Belize, where most of the police carry clubs or nothing. So your best defense is knowledge, good safety preparation and defense.Make it difficult to get to your house without being seen, hard to get in, and hard to get to you if someone does get in. Get to know your neighbors, the local police, and volunteer in community actions.
Lastly, your home is a reflection of you! If you want to fit in to these small village communities, I believe building something simple looks less “wealthy” than a 6000+ giant mansion. If you were a burglar, which would you target? If you build a giant home, with the idea of renting it because you will hardly ever be there, do you think crooks will know whoever is renting it paid a lot for rental? Hmmmmm, money!
Typical Belize Home
Example of what “rich American/Canadian Expats often build
Any questions on what goes through the minds of Belizeans who eat chicken, rice and beans…..every day?
Belize is an impoverished country, with less and less work, and lots of very poor communities. Americans and Canadians often look to these locals, as rich, coming down to Belize to play, throwing money around. Its difficult to not appear that way, I know, but it should be something you work on, as I do.
So come to Belize, its a beautiful country, with awesome friendly people, tasty foods, great rums, diving, fishing, and lots of sun and sand. Not everyone wants to rob you, but like most places in the world, there are always a few. I just want you to come here with your eyes open, not clouded by a country and industry that constantly advertises,
And I’m not saying to build a little shack to live in, just to keep in mind how you might appear to others, especially when someone says “I told you so”.
I promise to get back to things at hand, like my continued building of my new home, and fun things associated with it. One final note, it appears that I will soon become the “Neighborhood Watch Commander” of my village, after meeting with the area co-ordinators.I will be doing everything I can to prepare a safe community for my wife Marsha when she joins me here in retirement.
The Pirate (Gary)