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17 Answers

I heard that kidnapping is a problem in Tamarindo

Asked by: 7583 views

My friend who is a surfer has been there many times and this is my first time considering visiting while he is there. My friend said he heard about a kidnapping of a Michael Dixon and that he has never been found? I am a girl travelling alone so I am a little more sensitive to this issue if true.

Thank you for your help in advance


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17 Answers

  1. admin on Dec 08, 2010

    Unfortunately, Stephanie it is true and very worrisome.

    Thousands of tourists travel each year to Costa Rica and Tamarindo and return home. I am not exactly sure the story about Micheal if he was a tourist or an extended stay tourist but it is a troubling story because of the lack of attention the Costa Rican government has given this and as always in Costa Rican tradition, they will deport foreigners who raise their voice too much. So the expats who live here, despite their outrage are muzzled and that is exactly the way the Costa Rican authorities want. They would rather sweep the problem away than confront it and deal with it.

    How awful is it that a healthy human being disappears without a trace? Statistically, it just does not happen, there are always clues however small. I do not know how I would be able to live with myself if this was my son or how I would contain my rage at the lack of action or concern. I pray every night that god will keep my family safe but I know all to well that it is not always the neighbor who becomes the victim. When my mother died of cancer when I was in my teens, I seriously thought that “these things” happened to “other people” and that the “other people” were far far away in television land. My heart goes out to the family of Michael Dixon and I wish there was something I could do to help find him.

    If anyone does know ANYTHING even a rumor, please let us know. You can use as most people do, the anonymous account to enter your question or rumor.

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  2. NewsTips on Dec 09, 2010

    All the above is very true here are a few facts that CR authorities try to ignore:
    >Brendan Dobbins: Australian tourist, disappeared in Tamarindo in 2005 his remains were found 6 months later – Still no clues as to how he died
    >David Gimelfarb – US tourist disappeared in Rincon de Vieja on 11 August 2009 – Still missing
    >Craig Schnell – US expat disappeared on 18 February 2009 in Ostional. Body found – No clue how he died
    >Michael Dixon – British tourist disappeared in Tamarindo on 18 October 2009 – Still missing
    >John Scibeck – US tourist murdered in Playa Portrero on 31 December 2009 – Case remains unsolved
    >Kelly Robert Nutting – US expat found 8 March in the Ocean near Golfito with hands tied and feet in concrete. Costa Rican police initially pose it as a suicide.
    Two Austrian expats – disappeared December 2009 – Still missing, a man was found with their 4×4 and using their credit card but police say there is not enough evidence.
    >Roger Peter Biennvennu – US tourist disappeared in Barrio Quebradas early July 2010 – Still missing
    >Kim Paris – Canadian expat disappeared in Santa Teresa 25 August 2010. Still missing
    >Austin Allen Hiers, 23 year old US tourist found dead on the side of the main road in Tamarindo 21 October 2010. Body full of bruises and gash on his head. Authorities say he died of a heart attack.

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  3. HelpFindMichaelDixon on Dec 09, 2010

    Hi Stephanie,
    At this moment in time there is still no clear idea as to what happened to my brother, Michael Dixon.

    After over 1 year of searching for him we are pretty much certain that something criminal happened to him but very few people are willing to talk to us either for fear of their own safety or because they are involved. As you can see from above posts, Michael’s case is not an isolated one.

    Unfortunately, we have also come across the issue that the authorities in Costa Rica prefer to turn a blind eye to crimes of this nature which happen in their country.

    Costa Rica is a beautiful country but I would not recommend that you travel there alone as this problem is not getting any better. It definitely within your best interest to go as part of larger group and stick together at all times.

    All the best
    Michael Dixon’s brother

    For more information visit:

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    • admin on Dec 09, 2010

      Greetings David and thanks for your comments here. I only want to say that I am so sorry that you and your family is going through this. It is ugly and an emotional abyss. Any information you need disseminated, please let me know and I will post it for you.

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  5. anonymous on Dec 09, 2010

    Add this to the growing list of tourist murdered in Costa Rica. It is much safer to go to Mexico even with the drug violence, they do not have anywhere near the number of murders that Costa Rica has plus all of the rapes too. Stephanie I would stay clear of Costa Rica or if you have to go, like the other poster said, go with a large group and stay together at ALL TIMES. There are people who will stalk you and just wait for the opportunity to rob, rape, or kill you and the police do nothing about it. Here is the link for another tourst murder


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  6. anonymous on Dec 09, 2010

    This website should post this major RUMOR, check it out

    Costa Rica is safe to travel and police and government do everything they can to protect their single source of income: tourism.

    Last year, almost exactly this time here in Tamarindo, there were two rape attempts and the police still released the guy and he was seen hanging out near El Pescador Restaurant

    Stay in groups and do not go alone Stephanie!

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    • admin on Dec 09, 2010

      This is a difficult line to follow but please understand this site is not about bashing Tamarindo or Costa Rica.

      You can write as much as you want but please lets keep it relevant to the “rumors” or the questions placed. There are enough forums out there that have tons of people bashing Costa Rica. Most of them have reason but bashing does not resolve anything it just puts people off and gives reason to other people or businesses to point out this site as being a site to hurt Tamarindo. I 100% disagree with that but I do agree with keeping it clean and relevant.

      We all are big boys and girls, given the correct and truthful information, we are able to make decisions for ourselves. So those people who worry about blowing the lid off of Costa Rica’s crime problem or Tamarindo’s crime problem, it is your exact attitude that fosters this type of crime, like an Ostrich sticking its head underground in hopes the danger will pass.

      Those who live here, know the truth so if you see something that is not true on this site, tell us and we will remove it ASAP

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  7. Oscar on Dec 09, 2010

    Do not forget about the two retirees who were suffocated to death in their luxury condo Acqua in Jaco Beach. They were found with plastic bags over their heads. These people would not hurt a soul, they were fun loving Cuban Americans who spent the majority of their time in Jaco.

    There has been nothing done with that case and nobody despite video evidence has ben arrested.

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  8. Steve on Dec 17, 2010

    This is fucking horrible!! How can Costa Rica the country that stands for “Human Rights” not practice what they preach to the whole world, you fuckin hypocrite tin roof rice lice

    This country is just like any of the Arab countries, if there was nothing to export it would be just another loser country without anything of significance. Even with their “tourism” export dollars, they still walk around the world saying “please give us money, we are a poor little weak country”

    Fuckin pathetic, all it would take for those losers is to just make the decision to find these people and it would happen, case closed. Who the fuck knows why but most likely because corruption runs straight to the top of that Nobel peace prize dunce cap worn by Arias.

    I read somewhere and it is so true, if it was a Costa Rican who was kidnapped or murdered in a foreign country, they would be crying out for their poor brethren being victimized and wanting justice for their citizens
    Fucking hypocrites

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  9. Tamarindo Rumors Blog « HelpfindMichaelDixon on Dec 19, 2010

    [...] I heard that kidnapping is a problem in Tamarindo [...]

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  10. Factal on Jun 08, 2011

    Over the past decade Costa Rica has seen an incredible increase in the crime rate, including petty theft, gang violence and murders. This increase came on top of what was a low level of crime so Costa Rica is still one of the safer destinations in the region.

    This crime is unequivocally linked to the huge surge in drug trafficking operations. Previously, Central America was bypassed, but it is now a preferred passageway following increased success of US surveillance in the Caribbean and Colombia. The Mexican and Colombian drug gangs operating in Central America hire locals for their operations but, instead of paying in cash, they pay in drugs. With no previous major local demand for cocaine (outside of the tourist enclaves) drug pushing became common and created a local market for hard drugs as Costa Ricans became users.

    Similar to other drug afflicted zones, drug users can get addicted or taken advantage of by gang members, and utilize muggings and petty theft to generate the income to feed their habit. Some of these may include murders. Unfortunately, the Costa Rican criminal justice system (even before the current troubles) is bureaucratic and lethargic, so that a large proportion of cases take too long to go to trial and criminals are eventually released. More worrying is that local police and, increasingly, judges have become corrupted by drug gangs who simply offer them “plata o plomo” (silver or lead, i.e get paid or get killed). With limited resources and given the threat of violence to themselves or their families, many local authorities have become unwilling to prosecute known criminals. This is why some rapists and murderers, who are usually also drug dealers or involved in their operations, have been seen walking the streets unafraid of the accusations by their victims.

    Costa Rica is unprepared for this wave of violence for several reasons, in my opinion. Firstly, Costa Rica’s central government, although very progressive in many areas, are lethargic across the board and highly bureaucratic, so that responding to issues takes time. Unfortunately, one of Costa Rica’s most incompetent presidents of recent times (according to many Costa Ricans), Abel Pacheco, was inaugurated during the start of the wave of crime, so that relatively little effective action was taken until Oscar Arias was elected in 2006. In my belief, Costa Rica’s lack of an armed forces, although noble and commendable, has hurt their ability to respond to drug related violence with the same vigour and tenacity that it has hit them. Whilst Costa Rica’s investigative police force, the OIJ (equivalent to the FBI or Scotland Yard), are actually very professional and still regarded as largely uncorrupt, they are small. Some local observers claim Nicaragua has been able to better deal with the same drug trafficking issues by showing a greater use of force in shooting suspects on site, disregarding legal proceedings (although I have yet to see evidence of this strategy and associated statistics).

    Regarding claims that the Costa Rican authorities hush voices who speak up, I am largely surprised by this. Firstly, the wave of violence is widely reported and was the number one issue in the last presidential election, when Laura Chinchilla was brought into power. Costa Rica has a very free press and some good investigative journalists, and I have seen the disappearances of foreign nationals covered in local newspapers and state television with a critical eye on the possible corruption and incompetence of investigators. Here is a tv report on Michael Dixon and other missing tourists as reported on Costa Rican state television.


    However, Costa Ricans are a people proud of their democracy and progress in a troubled region, and Costa Rican authorities will defend their country against assertions of being a violent, backward people. Thus, I believe that at least some claims the government are in denial may come from misinterpreted statements trying to demonstrate the country’s position relative to other Latin American Neighbours. You can find many interviews with government ministers speaking openly about the increasing violence, including a recent edition of The Economist, with one (from memory, I’m afraid) discussing it’s impact on tourists.

    I really would find it hard to believe that the Costa Rican authorities would really deport any expat resident because they spoke up on the issue of disappearing tourists. What is more believable is that they deport expats who have become unregistered permanent residents in the country and have avoided taxes for many years. Whilst I’m quite sure the number of unregistered expat residents number in the low thousands, tax evasion is rife, expat or not. ***but this is another issue!

    Looking at the other cases of missing foreigners in Costa Rica, I would like to stress that we should not dismiss drownings too easily. One can note that many of those who went missing were last seen in coastal towns, although this is also where tourists tend to flock to and thus, would disappear from. Nevertheless a tragic number of tourists do drown in Costa Rican waters each year and several family friends of mine have become perilously close to drowning themselves, usually citing ignorance of the beaches’ currents and rapidly changing conditions. Others, such as David Gimelfarb, may have gotten lost or hurt in the country’s forests which I know from my own father’s account of being lost in Monteverde’s cloud forest, can easily happen just by straying off the trail by a number of metres.

    I discovered this thread after reading about the Dixon family’s plight in their search for Michael on the BBC. I wish you and all the other families who have missing loved ones the best in your search for answers and appropriate action from the Costa Rican authorities, you have my deepest sympathies. However, I also hope that this wave of crime across Central America is viewed holistically and tackled with the appropriate international support in drugs policy and transnational criminal investigators.

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  11. TomRobinson on Apr 16, 2012

    You all are getting scared for nothing. I saw a list from one of the commentators and it said, ‘such and such person missing…another person missing, XYZ still missing…body never found. If you can’t find the bodies, how do you know it was kidnapped.’ Has it ever occurred to you that the bodies might have drowned, fell off a clff, or eaten by crocs?

    It does happen. After all you are in a jungle. Lots of foreigners do not understand the dangers of the ocean and the jungle. hundreds of people die all the time due to drownings. Most tourist come from easy geographical land and they come here with untrained eyes and senses. They think the ocean is like a lake. Listen you have nothing to worry about when traveling to Tamarindo–its like Venice Beach in California. To me it’s not Costa Rica. If anything you should be aware of the Americans. They are the ones that come to CR and think they can do anything including taking advantage of people and placing blame on Costa Ricans. FYI-half the population of CR are immigrants.

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  12. TomRobinson on Apr 16, 2012

    I am Costa Rican and American and have traveled back and forth my entire life to Costa Rica for over 40 years. I knew Costa Rica when it was really poor, dirty and politically unstable. If you think it is bad now, you should have seen it then. They could not keep up with the increase of immigrants, population and economic growth . As with any developing country, the more immigrants and population increase the more crime that country will see. And it really bothers me when they blame Costa ricans. all i can say is CR did not have these crime issues when i was a child.(my family never needed bars on their homes, until the 90′s) And you would think a poor nation in the 80′s would have more crime then they do now, considering their economic growth.

    Anyway, overall the crime rate is below other neighboring countries, and you have to give credit to CR as they are, believe it or not, role models for other central american and south american countries. check out the education, economic growth, history etc. of CR and compare.

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  13. anonymous on Sep 21, 2012

    One reality about CR is missed by so many who travel there or who dream of doing so. CR has evolved into a major trans-shipment hub for cocaine over the last 20 years. (You have all 3 routes for the cocaine trafficers – Atlantic/Pacific and the overland routes into Mexico and ultimately the USA) During this period, some of the cocaine has been sold on a local level and worse – sold as crack cocaine for as little a 2 dollars per hit. this scurge has changed the landscape from San Jose to the smaller towns and more remote locations where petty crime and robbery are rampant. The number of foreigners robbed is under-reported and a serious problem – Michael’s belongings (wallet/cell phone) were found in his room – If he was confronted by some crack-head thug and simply said ” I don’t have anything” or did not speak spanish – this could have been misunderstood as if he was resisting or saying No.
    A simple scenario but one that is very common in CR. Michael Dixon is still missing in Costa Rica and the police have done nothing about it. The reluctance to allows the UK police to investigate only shows that Costa Rica has something to hide, most notably, the lack of police investigations into murders. Foreigners are murdered and kidnapped and the Costa Rican police do very little to help victims and their families. One might suggest it is because they lack funds but police work needs very little, just the determination to find out the truth. The truth about what happened to Michael Dixon and so many tourists killed in Costa Rica is covered up and brushed aside. Until the flow of tourism abates, Costa Rican authorities have very little motivation to solve crimes. So if the family of Michael Dixon wants results they should focus on publicity of tourism in Costa Rica as being dangerous to your health. Americans nor Europeans are safe here and are often seen as a means to an end and are expendable since the flow of tourists just keep arriving. Wait until a Chinese national is murdered here and you will see the government in action, it is only a matter of time.

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