Don't befriend scamps. Don't buy drugs. Don't get drunk and leave your doors or windows unlocked. Don't leave you belongins on the beach unless someone is watching them - someone you know!
Just use some damn sense!!
Be prepared, you will be eaten alive, especially around the lagoon, Jaguar Reserve, and most definitely Monkey RIver. I suggest a repellent with the highest deet amount possible. We used 5% and 7.15%, from Off, and it may have even attracted more mosquitoes. We borrowed some with 30% and that seemed to work out well.
On March 26, 2006 a gang of burglars invaded the Turtle Inn and Saks during the middle of the night and entered some of the cabanas while the guests were asleep. They entered through the windows. Some items were apparently stolen. According to local residents, this has happened several times before in the vicinity. Typically, the thieves remove the window shutters and cut the screens, crawl through the window, steal wallets and purses and other items of value, then depart unnoticed. Usually, the wallets (less cash) are found nearby. Despite Placencia's reputation for having little crime, the situation is apparently becoming quite serious. However, business owners are reluctant to publicize these incidents for obvious reasons.
I haven't spent much time in Belize City but have always heard it's best to drop in and out. I'm sure as in all cities it has it's places to stay out of and others that typically aren't a problem. I guess just keep your head up, especially around the dock area and always late at night.
A couple of people may try to scam you while you're on the beach or the sidewalk in Placencia. One man, who calls himself Wayne or Dennis, tries to sell you either home-made wine or marijuana. His MO is that he takes your money and says he'll be right back with the goods - but he never comes back.
We met this intrepid young man on the beach, and he introduced himself as Dennis. He took the wine approach with us, but we told him we weren't interested. When met him again at a bar, he apparently forgot he had already met us, and he introduced himself as Wayne. Cliff immediately called him on it and he said that Dennis is his middle name. Right. Then Wayne made a remark about how Cliff should use our video camera to tape the band that was going to play at the bar that night. I started to feel uncomfortable, so I paid for our drinks with the cash from my pockets and we left. This Wayne character is suspect #2 in our video camera theft (see Thieves Warning).
Placencia is such a laid-back and friendly place that you can easily be lulled into a false sense of security. That's what happened to us. We were not careful enough and left our hotel room door unlocked one night. We woke up on our second-to-last day in Belize to find that somebody had come into our room while we slept and had stolen our video camera, a wallet and a pair of shorts that had some cash in the pockets. Luckily, we found the wallet and shorts on the beach with all credit cards and identification accounted for. But the cash & camera were gone for good along with the video tape that had been shot for the last couple days.
We spoke with a security guard on the beach and he told us that there is a gentleman who sleeps on the beach who is known to watch people stumble in at night. He waits until they fall asleep and he just gives the door a shove to see if it will open. If it does, he takes what he can get. The security guard urged us to fill out a police report. He said that most tourists who get ripped off don't bother to file a report because they will be leaving town soon and think they would have to testify in court. According to this man, that's not the case. In Belize, all that's required for a conviction is a police report of theft and the recovered goods found in the person's possession. There are only a few "bad elements" who steal and the police know exactly who they are. But with no report from the victim, the police can't do a thing about it.
Anyway, we were perfectly willing to file a report, but there just happened to be a big soccer (football) competition that day, and the policeman in town was busy monitoring the event all day, so we never got together with him to file it. We had to leave town early the next morning and we stopped by his house on the way out, but he was in the shower. Oh well...