Is the security in Costa Rica indeed bad or are they exaggerating

By Special Guest Contributor Ivo Henfling of

Most Costa Rica realtors are afraid to write about topics like home invasions, robberies, squatters, expensive prices in the supermarkets and many other negative things you will read and hear about Costa Rica and most other places you might be researching to retire. Most of you who follow my blogs know by now that I am not. I just think people should be aware of what is going on around them and it will make them be a tad more careful.

The shooting neighbor

To start this blog, I want to call your attention to something that happened a couple of weeks ago: a good neighbor heard some noise outside, found out his neighbors were being robbed and shot one home invaders dead, wounded another and saved his neighbors. Oh my God, I hear some of you say, how can anyone live there? Is it that dangerous to live over there? Where is this place?

I see my agents already saying “Why do you have to start about this again”? I do because I believe in reality. Our life doesn’t turn around home invasions, they just happen, like anywhere else. They happen in Escazu, in Santa Ana, in San Jose and now in Atenas, once in a while. But we do have to realize we should worry about our security a bit. One of our real estate agents, Paul Furlong, was a NRA Instructor and taught hundreds of people “Practical Pistolcraft” over a 20 year period and is open for business again. Next week, look for a blog from Paul about this business. You might not like hat you are reading about but if you want to move to Costa Rica, you might as well learn what is going on in Costa Rica so you can adjust your expectations.

Home invasions and taxes

I have written an article about these home invasions before. The fact is that since nobody pays taxes in Costa Rica (!), there is not enough money for security. Most of you don’t realize it, but you have paid taxes all your life back home so you are used to that. But you don’t realize that most expats who live here are not paying more than a couple of hundred dollars a year on property taxes and also 13% sales tax on most goods you’re consuming here. Security is definitely becoming an issue in many places and as far as I know, there are fewer places left than there was yesterday, where you can just live with your doors open like they do in places like Atenas.

Newspaper articles worldwide

Since GoDutch Realty has Atenas homes for rent, I would like to point out that home invasions happen in lots of other places. These are part of some recent articles from newspapers in the US: When a burly ex-convict forced his way into a posh Florida home last week, he had no idea what awaited him — a 25-year-old beauty queen with a pink .38-caliber handgun. Meghan Brown, a former Florida pageant queen, shot and killed 42-year-old Albert Franklin Hill during a home invasion March 12 at the 2,732-square-foot house she shares with her fiance in Tierra Verde, Fla.

And what about this Question and Answer on a Yahoo Forum: Are there more home invasion taking place in Miami Florida in 2011? Yes and all over the nation, the lack of employment is causing people to do things they ordinarily would not do.

14th of April in the Huffington Post: Authorities in west Tennessee are searching for the 20-year-old cousin of country star Whitney Duncan. The young nursing student was abducted from her home during an apparent home invasion, police said.

This might strike you as incredible: MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Aug. 11, 2011 – Thieves are continuing to prey on foreclosed properties, removing copper, appliances and other fixtures, and leaving behind a mess for those who have to sell it. Foreclosures often become prime targets because they’re vacant.

They have curfew in Philadelphia now, riots in London, most of the immigrant squatters in Catholic churches in Brussels (Belgium) are Muslims and on and so forth. Pick up any newspaper from any country and you only read about drugs and violence.

What is going on in Costa Rica?

With the above excerpts, I am only trying to show that Costa Rica is not so different as many parts of the US security-wise.  I doubt the problem in case of Costa Rica has to do anything with the unemployment rate. The drug trade is taking over in Mexico and a large part of Central America and that of course hurts us. Costa Rica laws are easy going on criminals because we never needed any of that, we didn’t have many criminals. The population is growing fast and the laws are staying behind. The lawmakers are still asleep and the police can’t do much more than arrest the bad guys and then they have to let them go again. There is not enough money to fight the drug problems. President Laura Chinchilla asked Hillary Clinton more money, as the US is the user market and that’s why Central America is suffering with this. We have way to go, but we can all help by changing our lifestyle and realizing we need to be more careful.

Change your lifestyle a bit

Wherever you live in this world that is getting uglier every day, you probably have to change your life style a bit, don’t show off with what you have or simply hire Signal Secure to take care of you and your family’s security. I know it’s ugly to look over your shoulder, but as long as the laws don’t change it’s not going to change anytime soon. In the Southern Zone of Costa Rica, expats have decided not to put up with the secrity problems and got organized. A group of concerned and determined citizens, residents, non-residents, frequent visitors, and business owners who want to ensure their area stays safe and beautiful for all sent a message to the criminals “CRIME WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!.

Real nice neighbors

Realtor Ivo Henfling sells Costa Rica real estate and still recommends you contact Isabelle Jones to buy a home in Atenas since this is the area where you get the best value and views for your money. Oh, and your neighbors are really nice people. Atenas offers a laid back lifestyle and that is the reason people leave their doors open when they shouldn’t. Contact Isabelle Jones now to see Atenas real estate for sale or any other property you might be looking for.

Entry Control

Your property should, at all times, be under your control. To ensure that the only people who have access to your home or office are the people you trust, you need entry control solutions from Signal Secure that work effortlessly with every other security system in your property.

Our entry control systems provide you with total management and control of property access for your home or office. These advanced systems utilize a network of proximity readers, access keypads, and virtual partitions to systematically restrict entry to your property when you need it. Additionally, the system can control eight distinct area partitions and grant access to up to 199 individual users – who can be restricted based on area, time, specific days of the week, arming status of the security system, and other factors.

At the heart of our entry control solution are proximity readers and access cars. Proximity readers interact wirelessly with keypads or single door access modules for entry. They are compact in size, weatherproof, and discreet, providing ideal security for virtually any home or office facility.

Our system also works with proximity cards and proximity fobs that grant compact and convenient access to your family or employees. Capable of being carried easily in a pocket, wallet, or purse (or on a keychain), these devices can be carried and kept track of easily without providing noticeable bulk or heft.

For integrated entry control solutions that are programmable and customizable to your preferences, go with the security network offered by Signal Secure.

Energy Management

Save Green by Going Green

The environment we live in is a precious resource – which is why we all have become more vigilant about protecting our environment by conserving whenever possible. Signal Secure can help you protect the environment and save money on your home and office utility bills with our innovative suite of energy management solutions – solutions that give you control of your climate in an eco-friendly way.

Controlling Your Climate

Did you know that as much as 25% of a home’s energy usage comes from heating and cooling? In an office, that can be as steep as 40% – which means having automated climate controlled solutions is a must for environmentally-friendly savings.
Our solutions can integrate seamlessly with your climate control systems to automate climate based on your schedule or even the occupancy of your rooms. As always, these systems can function in sync with your home or office’s security system for added efficiency.

Automating Window Coverings

Signal Secure also offers automated window coverings that can help reduce the transfer of energy through your windows. Electronic window coverings can be closed in summer and open in winter to balance room temperature during the day; during night, that process can be reversed for optimal temperature balance.

Conserving Water

You can save money while keeping your property looking spectacular by automating your property’s sprinkler system. Our systems can even be programmed to water only at certain times based off rain and soil moisture sensors – meaning your sprinklers are used only when they are needed.

Remote Management

Stay In Control, No Matter Where You Are

Your property deserves the utmost in protection and security no matter where you happen to be. Other security systems only work when you are on the property – which means your home or office is vulnerable when you are gone.

When dealing with the hustle of modern-day life, you need to know that your home or office is secure no matter where you go and what you have to do. You need the power to control a system from afar, to give you peace of mind and reassurance that your property is under watch and armed at your discretion when you need it to be.

For that, there is Signal Secure’s remote management solution – a solution designed to provide you with the control you need at your fingertips, at all times.

User Interfaces and Controls

Our systems are designed to cooperate with a wide variety of interfaces and tools so you can remotely  manage your security system. These interfaces include:

  • Telephones
  • Cell phones
  • PCs
  • Smart phones
  • iPhone & iPod Touch
  • Any internet browser-enabled mobile device

In addition, the above devices work seamlessly with our control interfaces, including:

  • LCD keypads
  • Arming stations
  • Wireless keyfobs
  • Proximity cards & fobs
  • Touchscreens

The result: A reliable and trusted way to control access to your home and office from a distance.

Constant Information

Another incredible advantage of our remote management solution is the presence of alerts and notifications sent directly to you, whether you are on site or are away. These alerts are transmitted via voice and keypad if you are on premises, and via voice (through your phone) if you are away. Additionally, you can receive timely updates and alerts via email or text message so you can keep up-to-date on everything that occurs at your home or office.

You can also use this system to check the status of your system when you are away. Not sure if you armed the system? Want to make sure your garage door is closed – and actually close it if it has been left open? This system can do that and more.

Notification options for on-site and off-site use include:

  • Security and safety alerts
  • Water leaks
  • Critical temperatures
  • Visitors to your property
  • Deliveries to your property
  • Children arriving from school
  • Reminders to replace air and water filters, smoke detectors, and other devices
  • Reminders for anniversaries, birthdays, and other dates

Wherever you go, you need the comfort, security, and peace of mind that comes with knowing your property is under watch – and in your control. With Signal Secure, you can remotely manage your home and have the reassurance you need at all times – no matter where you are.

Tips for Automobile Security

Signal Secure wants you continue owning your vehicle until you are ready to get rid of it. Many car owners, because of carelessness and unconcerned behavior, invite thieves to steal their car. The chances of having your car stolen are greatly minimized by simply removing the opportunity through a few precautionary measures.

  •  If a thief finds it too much trouble to try to steal your car, he or she will give up and move on. By following these simple, yet effective car security tips, the chances of your car being stolen are greatly diminished.
  •  Always take the key out of the ignition, roll the windows up tightly and lock the doors whenever you park your vehicle, no matter how quick the errand.
  •  Park in a well-lit, open and busy location if possible. A car thief would rather work where he is not seen. Check your vehicle from time to time.
  •  If you have a garage, use it! Lock both your car and the garage.
  • Install outdoor motion detector lights that will shine on your driveway and back yard. They are a much better deterent than a light that is on all the time.
  • Never hide spare keys in a secret place or in a magnetic key box under the hood or other accessible places. Experienced car thieves routinely check the visors and ash tray and look under the floor mats.
  • After parking your car, set the emergency brake and put the car in “park,” or in gear if it has a manual transmission. To make it difficult for a thief to illegally tow your car, turn the steering wheel sharply to the left or right and remove the key to lock the steering column.
  • Don’t keep the car’s title in the glove compartment; keep it in your wallet or purse. You could even make photocopies to keep at home.
  • Don`t keep anything of value in your glove compartment, and do not lock your glove compartment. Otherwise, some inquisitive thief may break it open to see what`s inside.
  • Put packages and valuables out of sight in the trunk. These include such items as laptops, MP3 players, expensive sports equipment and clothing. Put these items away before parking your car.
  • When selling a car, DON’T let a stranger take it for a test drive alone. If a prospective buyer wants to take the car to a mechanic for an appraisal, volunteer to bring the car and be present during the entire inspection.
  • Some car thieves will act as a potential buyer when you are selling your car. Do not discuss many details of the alarm system when selling the car, only show how the car alarm system works after the car is sold.
  • Thieves will trigger your car alarm to see what your reaction will be. They may do this repeatedly in the middle of the night in the hope that you get fed up with the “false alarms” and turn off the alarm. Eventually, they’ll trigger the alarm and it won’t work because you have disabled it out of annoyance.
  • There are cases when victims are made to believe that they were involved in a minor car accident, and therefore most likely get off his vehicle for inspection. Call the police and your insurance company and wait until they arrive before leaving your car.
  • Drive in the center lane. This deters carjackers from approach the car.
  • Don’t stop to assist a stranger whose car is broken down. Help instead by driving to the nearest police station and inform them about the situation.


Fleet Management

The Signal Secure Fleet Tracking System allows company owners to monitor every aspect of their commercial vehicles. This includes:

  • All routes employees have driven
  • Start and end times for each route
  • Daily kilometers driven
  • Idling time
  • Perimeter Monitoring
  • Speed Monitoring

Our sophisticated software enables you to set the reports, maintenance, and alerts according to your business needs. Let US notify YOU when it’s time to send your vehicles in for maintenance and repairs.

In a matter of a few weeks you will notice the following impact on your company vehicles:


  • Fuel: idling, inefficient routes, theft
  • Labor: hours, overtime, headcount
  • At-risk driving
  • Theft and fraud
  • Costs for maintenance, insurance and communications


  • Customer satisfaction
  • Productivity and Efficiency
  • Revenue

Lower Your Insurance with Signal Secure

Insurance companies can give you up to a 35% discount on your anti-theft policy! Think about it: it is far easier to retrieve a vehicle that has been monitored, protected, and tracked in REAL TIME by Signal Secure, rather than replace one that has been lost and fallen off the radar.

Signal Secure currently has agreements with the following insurance companies:

  • Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS)
  • ASSA

After you have invested in Intelligent Security with Signal Secure, an insurance agent will conduct an evaluation based on the vehicle’s history, and grant up to a 35% discount on your Anti-Theft Policy (not the overall insurance cost).

Signal Secure is the smart choice – for your safety, your peace of mind, and your budget.

Signal Secure Automation, Entertainment, & Security