If someone is missing in Costa Rica, do not waste any time initiating an investigation. The longer you delay, the greater the chances that they may never be found.
I have had several calls to investigate the disappearance of people who were visiting Costa Rica and all of them have failed to find the missing person. The main reason for this was the lack of effort from the earliest known moment that the person went missing. Unlike the United States where there are all kinds of alerts for missing or endangered people, Costa Rica has no viable system in place to alert people of the missing person.
Why it is Important to Report someone missing in Costa Rica Immediately
Almost everyone here is busy scratching out a living and really do not have time to stop what they are doing to volunteer for a search. Such was the case recently when a woman came up missing in Guanacaste under suspicious circumstances. We were not retained until three weeks after the initial disappearance.
Having prior law enforcement experience I know the value of early response to a reported missing person. Because of earlier response time to such reports many of the missing were located. The others who were found to be the victims of a crime, the earlier response assisted in bringing those responsible to justice to answer for their deeds.
In Costa Rica the law enforcement is understaffed and under resourced. They lack the adequate resources and equipment to undertake a search for a missing person. Much of Costa Rica is endowed with lush tropical forest and jungles that lure many inexperienced and novice hikers to explore their beauty. Unaware of the lack of communication once in these areas and being poorly equipped, many of the best hikers get lost.
Dangers in the jungles range from Jaguars to over thirty nine species of poisonous snakes, not to mention crocodiles and scorpions. Medical response and medical facilities are spread out and it could take hours in some instance to get to a medical facility. Once there of course, there is a concern that they will have the necessary equipment and staff to treat the injury.
Thus the need to report a missing person and contact someone here in Costa Rica to start looking for that person will play a vital part in finding and returning the missing person.