The crime rate against Americans and other expats in Belize is less than the crime rate for Belizeans committing crimes against other Belizeans.
That said, Americans and other expats are not being targeted in Belize, per se. What you’ll find are crimes of opportunity. Somebody that is really flashy and a braggadocio going around with lots of money, in fancy cars, etc., is going to make himself a target. That’s a shame.
Also, from my perspective, I just think that acting like that is rude when coming to a country where people just scrape and get by. There is no abject property here. There is nobody starving. There are no distended bellies. Everyone has plenty to eat, but these are not people of great means, either. When there are economic hard times, I think it is just rude to flash your wealth in someone’s face who is not doing well
Then you’ll hear that someone got robbed. Well, why do robbers rob banks? It’s because that’s where the money is. If everybody knows where the money is then the ne-er-do-wells are going to know where the money is as well and you make yourself a target.
t’s not really any different than anywhere else in the world, but it obviously tends to make more news. The per capita statistics for crime don’t look too good for Belize, because there isn’t that large a population. However, their per capita statistics for good things looks very good. For example, charitable organizations, environmental organizations in Belize per capita is maybe one of the highest in the world. On a per capita basis, that’s what happens when you are a country with 350,000 people.
We drive a Toyota Forerunner. It’s a nice car and it looks good. We live in a nice, 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house and have flat screen TVs and things like that but we go out and slap guys on the back that could be the homeless guy down on Burns Avenue. I say, “Hey Jim, how’s it going? Good to see you.” In contrast, if you’re the “Ugly American” out there and you’re rude to people and you have a lot of “bling bling,” you will not be treated nicely. But if you show yourself as just a “Regular Joe”, then people like and respect you and they will actually watch out for you.
Emma, my wife’s cousin, has been coming down for years and years. She’s a beautiful young lady. They look at her like she’s a Barbie doll. She holds her own. She doesn’t let anybody push her around, but she is so nice and so polite to everybody that they look out for her. They treat her like a local and that’s the kind of friendly, hospitable people Belizeans are. If you want respect, you give respect and in Belize, it’s all about respect.
One thing that I learned a couple of years ago is when you are in touristy areas, you’re going to find, unlike the rest of the country, that there will be some panhandlers. This just happens in the high tourist areas. When you are sitting at a table, and somebody comes up to the table trying to panhandle, just look them right in the eye and say, “Respect brother. Respect.” They know immediately what you are saying. It’s like you’re telling them to respect your time and privacy and that you also respect them. It’s just a simple word like that, and then they move on.
(Belizean boys on a boat, pictured.)