Honduras Crime: How to Travel Safely

Honduras is one of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit in Central America. Not only does it look amazing, it also has great beaches (West Bay Beach, Playa Negra, Mosquito Coast, etc), lush environments (Parque Nacional El Cusuco, Parque Nacional La Tigram) and just about everything that you might want to see from a stunning country.

But not everything is beautiful there. There are times when you will have to face risk of Honduras crime. As a result, you have to be prepared for petty crimes and even some acts of violence when you come and visit the island here.

Which places to avoid in Honduras?

According to the US Department of State, criminal activity is a serious problem all throughout Honduras, something its government lacks adequate resources to respond more effectively/ As a result, criminals and organized crime groups operate with impunity throughout the country, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world. According to official government figures, the homicide rate is 60 per 100,000 population in 2015. Unfortunately, most of homicide cases in Honduras have not been resolved.

Photo credit: Nan Palmero / Flickr

Photo credit: Nan Palmero / Flickr

Reported crimes include highway assault and carjacking by individuals or groups posing as government enforcers. This is especially notable in remote areas of Choluteca, Olancho, Colon, and Copan Departments. Reports of kidnappings may be below actual incidents as families of victims often pay ransoms without reporting the crime to the police out of fear of retribution.

Trafficking or illegal drugs involve transnational crime groups. Other criminals, whether alone or part of a bigger group in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and other large cities are involved in murder, kidnapping, extortion, carjacking, robbery and rape.

Roatan & Bay Islands: Roatan and the Bay Islands experience lower crime rates than the Honduran mainland. While the national government of Honduras, Roatan authorities, and businesses took measures in 2014 to improve tourism security, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur. You should exercise caution, especially at night. If staying at a hotel resort, book tours and sightseeing through the resort or reputable tour companies. Coxen Hole on the island of Roatan should be avoided after dark.

One of the things to keep in mind about Honduras crime is that even if there are places where you are more vulnerable, you still need to take care of yourself everywhere you go. There are a few locations where things are worse than other places, true, but you still need to take complete care of yourself the best way you can regardless of where you go here.

That being said, some places are a lot worse when compared to others when you visit Honduras. The regions you need to avoid are San Pedro Sula as well as Roatan and Tegucigalpa or La Ceiba. It’s not really avoiding, it’s more about being careful here as scams can appear out of nowhere and you have to be prepared to deal with them the best way you can.

Also, there are some locations like Gracias a Dios as well as Colon and Northern Olancho that have little to no police force presence. These are regions you might want to avoid as they are widely known for violence and drug smuggling. It’s important to use extreme caution when you visit any of these regions as they might be very challenging to deal with.

So, to recap, you should be very careful in regions like:
• Colon
• Gracias a Dios
• San Pedro Sula
• Roatan
• Tegucigalpa
• La Ceiba
• Northern Olancho

Petty crime
Honduras crime does include quite a lot of petty crime. There’s a very high crime rate in the country, however you don’t have to worry that much. Most of the crime here relies around petty incidents. What you need to be aware here includes things like purse snatching and pickpockets. They usually target tourists and follow them. Since tourists are unsuspecting, they are known to attack at any time, so you have to be well aware of the environment at all times. This is especially true if you want to visit any of the regions we mentioned above. Don’t get too distracted by the landscape as you will end up with quite a bit of trouble.

• Valuables and jewelry should be kept in the hotel or they should at least be concealed
• Keep in mind that most thieves and purse snatchers operate in areas near the hotels
• Robberies tend to take place at night, so don’t do with a lot of jewels and valuable during the night.
• Be aware of two man teams that come with motorcycles or large gangs of people that look too much at you. When you see that, head to the hotel and leave the valuables there.
• Try to stay alert all the time regardless of the situation, it’s the best way to stay safe when you are in Honduras.
Violent crimes
Aside from the petty crimes, Honduras crime is also known for the multiple acts of violence. These include things like murder, assault, rape, kidnapping and even robberies.

One of the current issues is the armed robbery that tends to focus on both pedestrians and tourist cars as well. You will find armed bandits that attack minibuses or cars/vans. You can encounter situations when you have to deal with kidnapping, but this is less common. In fact, most kidnappings involve rich locals and not people that travel here. Still, it’s important to be alert and fully prepared for anything.

Murder is an issue here as a lot of foreigners were killed here. 85 people from the US alone were killed in Honduras, so the Honduras crime rate is pretty high. Also, only 1/3 of all cases were ever solved, so it’s hard to find a resolution. Never discuss the travel plan details in public, otherwise you will end up being a target for rapists and murderers.

Where can you get help?
The local police station is the obvious answer here, but keep in mind that not all of them speak English. You will have to know at least a tiny bit of Spanish if you want to get any help. That’s why it can be very important to learn Spanish when you come to Honduras, as that’s exactly what you want to have here.

What can you do to protect yourself against the Honduras crime?

1. In case a person tries to rob you, don’t resist. Many criminals carry knives and weapons so they might injure or even shoot you. Lots of tourists died this way, which is why you need to avoid this type of issue.

2. Keep the valuables and jewelry at the hotel. Keep them away from prying eyes. Instead, bring in some regular clothes that will allow you to look normal in that region.

3. Try to avoid bringing in a lot of attention to you. Don’t speak too loud, don’t show that you have a lot of money on you. Using a credit card might be better instead of using cash here.

4. Avoid going out at night, the Honduras crime rate is higher during the night.

5. Avoid hitchhikers, they might be dangerous people so it’s a good idea to stay away from that as well.

6. Stay away from beaches during the night as you can find many criminals here ready to steal from you.

7. Make sure that you stay away from regions like Gracias a Dios or Colon which have a limited police presence. You want to avoid that at all costs if you want to get incredible results in the end.

As always, when you go to a new country you have to be very patient. Take your time, make sure that you avoid any strange locations stay away from dubious people. While at that, avoid getting too much attention and don’t go into alleys. If you do that, you will stay away from the Honduras crime and the experience of visiting this marvelous country will be an extraordinary one.

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