Security Minister Says Crime is Down

A recent article in AM Costa Rica reports that Janina del Vecchio, minister of security in the Arias administration, recently made the case that crime in Costa Rica is going down, backing up her claims with statistical evidence showing a decrease in the number of murders and home invasions in the past year. Based on statistics from the Judicial Investigating Organization, robberies in San José decreased 4.9%. Home invasions decreased as well, down 8.8 percent.

Also noted were over 90,000 kilos of cocaine seized since May 2006, and a reduction of 23% in murders in Limon province.

This is great news. I’m thinking of all the money I can save on taxis at night by walking through Barrio Cuba or Limon. /sarcasm off

There is a famous quote, often attributed (dubiously) to Mark Twain that goes: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” We certainly have some statistics here, alrighty!

I’m not going to do an in depth analysis of this article or the Security Minister’s claims because it’s not worth the effort. But I do have a few observations. Regarding the Limon murder statistics… I guess I can believe that. It has a population of about 75,000. The murder rate in all of Costa Rica is around 10 per 100,000. Though Limon is likely higher, that would amount to about 8 murders per year following the national average. So if this year we had 6 murders, the rate would be down 25%. Obviously it doesn’t take a major change to move the rate with such a small sample. So 2 less murders in Limon and we have a nice stat to throw at the waiting press and public.

Robberies are down, in theory, around 5%. Naturally, these are only the reported robberies. I know several Ticos and Ticas who have been robbed who didn’t even bother going to the police. “Why bother?” was their attitude. Nothing was going to be done, no hope of getting back what was stolen. Home invasions? These probably do get reported. It may indeed be the case that the number is down, though there certainly have been quite a few cases reported in the media in the past year. Maybe Ms. del Vecchio deserves credit here, or maybe it’s just a statistical blip. I’d have to see a lot more historical data to make an educated guess.

The seemingly big cocaine confiscations are another bragging point, apparently. How much is 90 thousand kilos in terms of what passes through Costa Rica? Does anybody know? Does anybody even have a wild guess? I don’t. If this is more than was confiscated in previous years, cool. Is it because more is being shipped through CR or is it because a higher pct. is being nabbed? Beats me. But it does make for positive PR for the Arias administration.

Don’t forget, we have an election coming up in January. The ruling party wants to put the best face possible on things so they can get their candidates elected. I don’t feel any safer now than I did a year ago, but then, since I don’t have any statistics to back that up…

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