This is not a subject the travel agents or tour operators like to discuss, but I feel it is necessary. If you are traveling to a country where there is poverty, there is theft. This is not limited to any particular country, it can happen anywhere. Travelers who are informed and aware can make wiser choices.
I live on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Robberies have increased so we have formed citizens groups who work with the police and the public for prevention of crime and help for the victims. Private guards have been hired to patrol the beaches and the streets. Fortunately physical harm is rare, but often valued possessions left vulnerable are nabbed. There are things you can do to protect yourself:
RULES FOR DAY OUTINGS:
1. DO NOT CARRY ANYTHING YOU DO NOT IMMEDIATELY NEED!
I cannot emphasize this enough. When you are on an outing, whether it be the beach or a bike ride:
a. Take only the money you may need to spend - no more.
b. Do not carry your passport. It is legal and wise to carry a copy which shows your entry stamp.
c. Do not carry a backpack or purse, it attracts criminals as they imagine what valuables you might have inside. Use clothes with pockets and take a pocket sized camera.
d. When you go to the beach, take no more than a towel, water bottle, sunscreen and a book. I use a crappy looking beach bag to carry it all.
Do your picture taking on a different occasion and return the camera to your hotel before you go to swim.
2. Avoid isolated areas at night. I never walk the beach alone at night but I am comfortable going anywhere on the beach in the day time - because I do not bring valuables.
3. Don’t leave anything of value in sight, in your unoccupied car. A rental car with a trunk is preferable.
4. Always lock doors, shutters, windows, do not leave anything vulnerable - even for a few minutes.
If you follow these simple rules when on an outing, you can forget about theft and just have fun.