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Bonnie Williams of Fundacion Bid 4 Bouquete – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Reading responses to this important question, I notice that most are from realtors and tourist-related businesses, both of which have a vested interest in people coming to Panama and therefore play down the issue of crime against expats. Many of the responses, too, are old.
 
I have lived in Boquete, Panama for nine years and regret to report that in the past year this community has experienced a dramatic increase in violent crime, most related to home invasions. A Canadian expat was murdered in one invasion; an American expat was injured so critically in another as to require weeks in the hospital and at least one return to the hospital after her release. There have been several home invasions with less serious but significant physical injuries. All of those surviving were severely traumatized, and many if not most have left the country.  As a result of these crimes, a police checkpoint has been set up on the outskirts of the road between Boquete and David as it is believed these crimes to be the work of gangs in David.
 
This is not to say that the town (Boquete) is in a panic or that folks are walking around in fear of their lives. These crimes were a wake-up call, though, particularly for those who live remotely and those who do not have adequate home security such as fences, burglar bars, cameras, and alarms. Those considering relocation to Panama cannot underestimate the need for adequate security wherever they choose to live. More and more people are renting, and most rentals have negligible security. And, while property outside of town or a established community may have a more attractive price tag for those putting down roots, they also are more vulnerable to crime--particularly those south of town toward David where the new four-lane highway affords criminals and quick exit.
 
It is disingenuous to say that expats are not targeted to some degree. They generally have more money and material goods than Panamanians, which make them more attractive to the criminal element.
Iván Eskildsen of Cubitá Group – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Commercial plaza in Chitre, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPanama is considered a very safe country. It is the safest country in the region and there’s definitely is no issue with foreigners being unsafe here. Panamanians are really very welcoming and have a positive attitude towards foreigners, especially considering that we had the Americans here in the country for almost 100 years when the Panama Canal was under American jurisdiction. We are used to having a lot of foreigners, especially Americans, here.
 
Chitré, where I live, is considered by many people as the best place to live in Panama. There is a health research institute in Chitré called Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudios de la Salud, which conducted a study a few years ago wherein Chitré was selected as the best place in Panama to live based on statistics. The statistics used for this study were crime rate, life expectancy, cost of living, and in general, the accommodations that Chitré have. Chitré has the comfort and quality of life of the countryside but it also has the comfort of a city in the sense that it has most bank branches, malls, supermarkets, hospitals, etc. So in a way, Chitré is the best-kept secret of Panama because it provides this very interesting quality of life.
 
(Commercial plaza in Chitre, Panama, pictured.)
Jeff Barton of Punta Pacifica Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama City, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI have lived in Panama for 8 years and never had any incident or even a close call or an uncalled for situation with respect to any type of crime in any way. As is the case with most cities in the world, of course there is crime in Panama City.  I would not say that there’s a different rate between general crime that happens in the city with Panamanians or expats.  For the most part, the majority of the crime happens in the outskirts of the city with very few expats, if any, so there’s probably less crime happening involving expats than with the locals of Panama City. 
 
The same is true in other parts of Panama.  Crime in general is not a major issue or concern. Compared to other countries in Latin America I would expect that Panama would either have the lowest, or one of the lowest crime rates. In terms of expats, people often make the decision to move to Panama because of the safety they feel as opposed to many other places they could have chosen to live.
 
One of the big differences in Panama City is that what would be considered the dangerous areas are not downtown. They are in the outskirts where you’d really have to go and seek them out.  This is in opposition to major cities in the US where often you can be right in the heart of downtown and be in the one of the most dangerous areas of the city. 
 
(Panama City, Panama, pictured.)
Jennifer Moloney Jones of The Visitor – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama_Police scooter – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI have some friends here in Panama who had have incidents where they have been mugged or had a bad experience with a maid who was not very reputable, but most of it is petty crime. The crimes here tend to be mugging or lifting a bag at a restaurant. The violent crimes you hear about here are between gangs, and they happen in the poor neighborhoods.
 
As expats, if you don’t walk around in the dark wearing your flashy jewelry, you would be fine. You just have to take normal precautions as you would in any normal city anywhere in the world. Make sure that your bag is close to you when you are in public places. It is the same as anywhere else. I certainly don’t think that Panama is any worse than London and I lived in London for a long time. You just have to be sensible about what you are doing.
 
I don’t think there is a specific targeting of expats here in Panama. I think anybody who is perceived to have more tends to be a target, but they don’t necessarily have to be expats. It could be anybody; even Panamanians who have more money can be targeted. The petty crimes here are just something that comes with living in any country with such an enormous divide in wealth.
Antonio Cheng – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I do not hear of crimes against expats here in Panama. I haven’t heard of that kind of news on TV and I do not know of any expat who has been robbed. I don’t think Americans or other expats are targeted here in Panama. The crime rate against Americans is no greater than it is for Panamanians who act the same way and go to the same places. So expats should just really have to be aware that there are areas within Panama City that are not safe, just like in any other city.
Rafael Alvarado of Rafael Alvarado / Attorney / Real Estate Broker – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Policia Nacional Panama Police car Crime Rate in Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are not statistics that report the rate of crimes against Americans or other expats here in Panama. The government does not keep record of how many foreign nationals were killed in Panama.
 
However, very little crime is committed against expats or even none at all. Usually, when a foreigner is killed, he would have been involved in situations such as drugs or he was running away from the FBI or Interpol.
 
There were no instances where an expat was killed just because he was walking around. Safety really depends on the place, not on the person. Regardless if you are a Panamanian or an expat, if you go to a certain place that is not safe, you will have the same problem.
David Whittington of Tucan Golf Club and Resort – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The bulk of my experience here in Panama is from living in Boquete.  From there, I remember that the majority of break-ins were the result of doors being left open or houses that were unoccupied for extended periods of time.  The crime was always theft, never vandalizing.  Violent crime is extremely rare in Panama.
 
Americans or other expats are not targets for crime in Panama any more than anyone else who may have more money or who may be a little more naïve in attempts to protect themselves.  For example, Panamanians always make sure their cars are locked, etc., while sometimes expats don’t.
 
In your day-to-day life, if you know which areas of Panama to avoid, crime should be close to a zero concern for you.  I’ve been in Panama over 2 ½ years and neither my wife nor I have ever had any problem at all.  Many of the people who live where we do now, in a gated community here in Tucan, near Panama City, don’t even lock their doors.
Mark Hurt – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Wherever you find more expats you will find more crime.  Why?  Because who wants to risk going to jail for robbing a poor person?  Of course that is for expats as well as rich locals.
 
The old joke was we were so poor growing up, when people broke into our home they gave us a 20 dollar bill and left.
 
I find the police here in Panama to be under trained and under funded. One time a bar was robbed and when they called the police they were told, well, they would try to come by later because they didn't have gas for the police truck. They also don't have a system to run and check a tag on a car, nor check a person for past crimes, not in the field anyway.  They do have new motor bikes, radar guns and of course a state of the art hand held machine that they can slip your drivers license into and it will print you a ticket!!
 
Don't bet that the police will come to save you here in Panama.  First off, where do you live?  Most roads in Panama don't have names, much less street signs.  How about your house?  Nope, they don't have any street addresses on any of them either.   Humm...  "Go down this road till you see the large palm tree, turn right, go a half a mile, turn left.  We are the 8th house on the left hand side.  Look for a red pick up truck.  No, wait, they just drove off with that.  Look for a large rock in my front yard."
Dennis Dean Smith of DennisDeanSmith – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I agree with Randy. The risk of crime against Americans is minimal. If something happens it is usually petty theft. There is gang based drug crime but they tend to shoot each other. Like anywhere, keep your money hidden and your eyes open and there should be no problem.
Randy Hilarski of High Impact Media Group Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I have been living here in :Panama for three years and I have more worries living in the USA than I do here. Back in the USA you have to worry about the criminals and the police. At least here you know the police are looking for much bigger fish than an expat or tourist.
 
Petty theft is common so be prepared for it. Do not leave doors unlocked. Do not leave your car open at the gas station. Do not be flashy with your money. This is all common sense, but people seem to lose their wits when they go to another country.
 
There are certain areas that you should not venture into. If you are new to Panama make sure to have someone point out the places you should avoid. 
 
Bottom line is educate yourself and be prepared.
 
RENE GOMEZ of SCUBAPANAMA – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Americans and other expats are not singled out in Panama. When it comes to crimes, all people are treated equal; there is not discrimination at all! I was just talking to the lady who works for us at the counter and she told me that she has to be very careful with her purse when she is getting into the subway or anywhere else here in Panama. This lady is a local Panamanian who looks and talks like a Panamanian and she is very aware of her surroundings.
 
Everybody should be aware of their surroundings, especially gringos. If you are wearing bermuda shorts, tennis shoes, a Hawaiian shirt, you have camera hanging on your neck, and you are looking all over the place and not keeping track of your belongings, then you may be sending a signal to somebody else to take your things away from you. It is not because you are American but it is because you are not paying attention to your surroundings.
 
Please feel safe to travel through Panama.  Of course, be cognizant of your  surroundings and don't tread in places similar to those you would not tread back in the US.
Neil Stein of Panama Paraiso – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Many Americans feel like they are targets when they travel to foreign countries, possibly because of our government's policies around the world or whatever.  And often we are!   It's the main reason that Hawaii has prospered so much - many people are afraid to travel abroad.  However, it is incredibly safe here in Panama!
 
I have been all around this country, often in buses and taxis.  Never once have I felt threatened - quite the opposite.  Panamanians are some of the friendliest, non-violent people I have met anywhere in the world.  In fact, cabdrivers ask my opinion all the time of their country, their food and Panama in general.  They are thrilled with my replies because I genuinely love this country and their people.
 
Because of the Panama Canal, Panamanians have been exposed to Americans for over 100 years.  In general, they like us very much and certainly are no threat to either visitors or expatriates.  If you stay away from obvious dangerous areas of the city or Colon, you have nothing to worry about!
 
 

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