Virgin Islands Travel Forum

crime in the USVI

February 13, 2007 09:38AM
Registered:
02/21/2005

60 Posts

cls8506,
I think everybody appreciates your concern. Don't know what anybody can say to completely put your mind at ease. I will say that the St. Thomas receives nearly 3 million tourist per year and 99.9% come into absolutely no contact with crime.
I would not live here nor would I allow my wife to travel around this island during the day or night if I thought for one second that we were putting ourselves in danger. Crime excluding drug related is generally a random act of violence that can strike at anytime and anywhere.
I can tell you also that you probably have a better shot of winning our local lottery while you are here then being a victim of crime. St. Thomas is like Mayberry compared to some places that I have visited around the world so I get a little bit of a chuckle when I read these crime threads but at the same time realize you are only doing your due diligence of planning your family vacation.
If you decide not to come that is okay, there are 3 million people per year that decide to take the risk and have wonderful vacations here. I say take a chance, come on down, you will not regret it.

February 13, 2007 02:36PM
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Registered:
03/28/2006

1,581 Posts

I agree with Pirate...stop worrying and just have a great time.

February 13, 2007 03:16PM
Registered:
03/31/2006

403 Posts

I've been to STT and STJ and felt safe, didn't have any problems. Very much enjoyed the vacation (in fact, I think about it every day, wishing I could go back soon). But I'm curious about why it's not recommended you go into town at night..? I live in the Dallas area and grew up in Austin and went downtown at night with no problems. Of course certain areas were to be avoided due to drug activity and "ladies of the night," but other than that, it was fine (using common sense of course). What goes on in Charlotte Amalie at night that is to be avoided? happy Is there some activity happening that you should stay away from, or are people told to avoid it just because you don't want to be a person walking around at night period?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/13/2007 03:17PM by Gari-Ann in TX.

February 13, 2007 04:18PM
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Registered:
11/03/2006

1,161 Posts

ECPirate,
Thank-you! I am all over this island on a daily basis and if i didn't feel safe I wouldn't live here either. I simply use my common sense! So Yes, Common Sense is the word!
Town is shut down at night and there really isn't any reason to be there! By day, there are lots of people and police as well, by night it is quiet, and not hardly anyone around. It's kinda like going thru that dark alley. Simply no reason to be there.
You WILL enjoy yourself and all that you do. Come on down! I myself would be far more afraid of the big cities at night!

February 13, 2007 05:40PM
Registered:
12/11/2006

135 Posts

On any beach in the Caribbean or most everywhere you shouldn't leave your wallet/camera/valuables lying in the sand. That's just common sense. I wouldn't leave my purse in a grocery cart anywhere in the States either.

As has been pointed out, there's no reason to wander around in a deserted town late at night. I don't get what the insistence is on strolling around in front of a bunch of locked-up, closed stores & don't advise it. We have homeless, some druggies, etc. so that's where to avoid.

Crikey, I don't have air conditioning where I live and sleep with my sliding doors open (albeit on the 2nd level of my building which is built onto a hillside so it's actually the main level.) The need for a/c depends on where you're staying & how it's situated regarding breezes.

There is NO crime-free Caribbean island & anyone who tells you there is, is fibbing. There is nowhere on this earth that I've heard of that's crime-free. I hope you come & enjoy yourself but if you'll be terrified all the time, the islands may not be right for you but you will be missing out on some real beauty.

~Trade~



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/13/2007 05:41PM by Trade.

February 13, 2007 08:52PM
Registered:
06/13/2005

1,980 Posts

Ok, I guess everyone deals with things differently. The facts of crime that have occurred are just that, facts. How we react is probably all related to our own experiences and personalities. I am a single woman traveling with a young child. So, no taking chances with leaving sliders open, etc. No leaving my villa unlocked while I am out - and I thought most of them had contract language that called the rented into responsibility if anything happened and the villa hadn't been locked up tight while the renter was out. I'd be p.o'd if I owned a villa and anyone left it open while they went out. The renters on STJ came home to find "guests" in their villa (guests with guns) after they didn't lock up. That event made me sure to lock up tight.

Sherri, you know I certainly look to you for island advice and support - since you have lived there so long and are so active in tourism. Why do visitors have to use greetings and smiles as a deterrent to criminal attack against them? I mean, if I don't say good morning, am I more at risk for having crime perpetrated against me? This seems very bizarre to me. If I am the victim of a crime, may I assume that I just should have smiled more and said "good day"? I dare say that criminals will do what they do, regardless of how I interact with them.

I think STT and STJ are wonderful places to visit. Hey, I'm there in 3 days - I could have gone anywhere. I don't think anything will happen to me and I don't expect to have to go out of my way to keep safe. I'll do what I listed in my 10 steps. And, yes, I do have a game face because I am a woman and I don't want to make nicey-nicey with the guys I pass all the time. Maybe that rule doesn't apply to everyone (guys)...so skip that one.

Don't be afraid - but be aware and prepared. These are small islands with poverty and a long-standing problem with criminal justice. As others have said, other islands have it MUCH worse.

~Blu

*Here is the link to the FAQ post with lots of links from former posts covering some of our most popular topics: [www.vinow.com]

Paul
February 13, 2007 09:25PM

Blu, I appreciate your advise and your perspective. We'll keep our heads up and our toes in the sand. happy

I'm jealous. I wish we were there in three days. We have to wait until next Thursday. Have a great time!

-pk

February 14, 2007 07:00AM
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Registered:
11/03/2006

1,161 Posts

HI Blu,
The greeting thing here is simply custom and an important one. I find that if I greet everyone, locals, tourists, whatever, than I get a more positive response. Locals like the greeting and do it to each other as well. It is a must and is listed in the Guest Guide for McLaughlin Anderson. No, it doesn't mean that if you don't greet that you will be attacked, it is simply appreciated. Yes, it does make for a better situation and I am a firm believer!
You are right that the guest is responsible for the villa being locked when they are out and also is printed in the guest guide. We aren't so bothered by our guests not locking, to us, we know that our guests feel safe and comfortable. We kinda feel that there really isn't that much that the robber can take (of the villa's), a couple of DVD players and some DVD's. The TV's are too large! The guests, at this point, have more to loose than we do. If someone went on the property to rob it, they are going to rob it whether locked or not. BUT yes, I tell the guests that they should lock the house when they are not here.
On the other hand, I do not want my guests to feel like they have to lock themselves in at night. To have that ocean breeze and to hear the ocean is not to be missed! Our screens all lock so you can lock those if it makes you feel more comfortable. I do believe that some of this probably pertains to the area also. If you are staying at resort, lower level, then you bess lock your doors, day and night.
Think of it this way, if you lived here, would you lock yourself in tight every night? I kinda doubt it. If I had to live this way, I would have to say that I would have to leave.
Blu, I hope I am not offending you! I am coming from the perspective of living here and knowing that yes, anything can happen! I DO think that your points are very valid and our guest guide reflects the same points you make!
I don't want to live my life in fear and I don't think our guests should feel that way either! Like I said earlier, both Jeff's and my schedules are very inconsistent, we are around a lot and this tends to make things safer around us and at the villa property. I feel this is also an asset for our guests. happy

February 14, 2007 10:22AM
Registered:
06/13/2005

1,980 Posts

No offense taken Sherri. I'm glad to read of your consistently positive experiences. It helps to offset some of what others have experienced in the negative end of the spectrum. If you've never been robbed in all of your years there, then you must be doing something right. I am aware of the customary greeting, but had never thought of it as a deterrent to crime. Regardless, being well-mannered is something that visitors and islanders, alike, should practice.

See you soon!!! (If you stop into Indigo before Saturday, please tell them to make sure my Black and Blue is on th MENU this time!!! They are my first stop!)

~Blu

*Here is the link to the FAQ post with lots of links from former posts covering some of our most popular topics: [www.vinow.com]

February 14, 2007 10:37AM
Registered:
01/17/2006

789 Posts

cls8506:

I guess crime is a concern for all of us. My feeling is that if you look for crime you'll find it. I take it that you did a search for crime in the USVI and up popped many stories and reports. You found it because you asked or it. There are many many more stories concerning the good and safe times that people had in the USVIs .

Simply put, the USVIs are safe. Practice as much common sense while visiting here as you do at home. In other words don't leave your brains at home. Don't try to buy drugs, don't get so drunk that you can't take care of yourself and don't wander down dark alleys in a strange city at 2 A.M. Get my point?

We bought a condo on St. Thomas 3 years ago and have had nothing but good experiences. It's a wonderful place to visit and live.

Have a great time!

F.I.

cls8506
February 14, 2007 12:47PM

FI,
Actually just to clarify, I bought a travel book to find out exciting and cultural things to do while visiting the islands. It mentioned many times the importance of safety and the high level of crime in the islands, which was an eyeopener for me. I didn't go looking for the dramatic, it came to me.
That's what prompted me to ask about it via the forum. I didn't want to trust some book....wanted opinions from folks who were traveling/living there currently.
It's not changed our plans for the trip. Just made us a little nervous of what to expect. I will "watch my back" so to speak and do my best to avoid any questionable situations.
Thanks

February 14, 2007 01:25PM
Registered:
01/17/2006

789 Posts

Sorry if I sounded too abrasive.......you don't need to "watch your back" while visiting the USVIs. It really is a nice, safe place. Have a great time.

F.I.

TRLK
February 14, 2007 02:43PM

I’m not sure why so many people get so defensive when it comes to crime in the USVI. The worst that could happen is that there would be a backlash from tourists that would force the USVI to clean up crime.

Is crime high there?
YES.

Will crime stop me from going there?
NO (at least not yet).

Defenders of the islands will often state that there is crime in the USVI just like there is every where else. But the crime rates are substantially higher in the USVI than they are in the vast majority of US cities and towns.

The crime rates in the USVI are astronomical compared to rates in similarly sized cities in the states. But what is even more shocking is the USVI crime rates compared to large US cities that are considered to be high crime. People will often state that crime in the USVI is similar to crime in large US cities, but that is not the case. I’m not trying to prevent people from vacationing in the USVI, but we should at least be honest when it comes to the numbers.

Take for example the large city that I live near, Chicago. There are approximately 26.6 times as many people living in the city of Chicago as there are in the USVI. So if Chicago had the same crime rate as the USVI, you could multiply the number of USVI crimes by 26.6.

Statistics below are from recent years.

MURDER

27 in the USVI; 450 in Chicago

If the crime rates were the same in the two places, there would be 718 murders in Chicago; that means the murder rate is 60% higher in the USVI than in Chicago.



RAPE

66 in the USVI; 1693 in Chicago

If the crime rates were the same in the two places, there would be 1756 rapes in Chicago; that means the rape rate is 4% higher in the USVI than in Chicago.


ARSON

55 in the USVI; 683 in Chicago

If the crime rates were the same in the two places, there would be 1463 arsons in Chicago; that means that the arson rate is 114% higher in the USVI than in Chicago


FELONY AGGRAVATED ASSAULT

577 in the USVI; 6719 in Chicago

If the crime rates were the same in the two places, there would be 15,348 assaults in Chicago; that means that the felony assault rate is 44% higher in the USVI than in Chicago.


I LOVE the USVI and vacation there every single year, but I’m even MORE careful there than I am in major US cities. I do "watch my back," and so far, so good, for me anyway. Most crime is against locals, not tourists, but you still need to be careful.

fern
February 14, 2007 03:23PM

I, too, love STJ and my husband and I have been traveling there yearly for the past 12 years. Most of that time, we have stayed in a rental cottage in Coral Bay. It's quiet, isolated, beautiful view and we have never had any issues--except last year. On our first day there, we left to go to the beach. On our return, the cottage had been burglurized, and the safe that we had locked our passports, birth certificates, credit card, cash, cell phones, car keys, wallets, etc had been stolen, ripped right out of the floor where it had been secured. Needless to say, I was extremely upset! We had no cash, my husband's credit card was useless since we had to cancel it, I was scared that we had no way home--no passports, birth cert's. We reported it to the police. They arrived-eventually. Apparently, since no one had been hurt (thank God!) it was low priority. They filed a report, which, they said I could show the Airport, etc to get home. We had to second day air car keys down, which took 4 days. The cottage owner was kind enough to give us money to eat. We went to the police dept. the next day to pick up our police report. Got the run around-wasn't ready, come back tomorrow. Nobody seemed to care there. Everyone else was great though--the people at Connections in Coral Bay let us make long distance calls no charge, neighbors offered us money, the owner of a local dingy rental business offered us money. But sad to say the police didn't seem to care, which bothered us alot.
We managed to get home ok and decided to give the cottage another try this year. A few changes--they had installed surveillance cameras up the road to the cottage and apparently it records all license plate numbers going up and down. We saw the police a few times passing by the cottage, so I guess that they are in the area patrolling. But paradise seems to have lost a little of its shine in light of the happenings last year. Maybe it was just kids having fun breaking into the homes in the area. They never caught anyone. Who knows if they even tried. In hindsight, I am glad we were not hurt, and that things turned out ok for us and the other homes that were broken into the same day. I am sure that they were watching for us to leave so that they could break in. The cottage owner said that they have had no more incidences. But it's heartbreaking that it had to happen at all. They even stole our bottled water out of the fridge!! Maybe it was despartion that made them do it, or kids having fun. I don't know. It's sad that people cannot let others alone. We have never hurt anyone, we are kind people. We love animals. Why were we targeted? Was it just random? We will never know. But we may not be back to STJ. We are still thinking it over.

February 14, 2007 04:01PM
Registered:
01/17/2006

789 Posts

TRLK:

Ahhh........Statistics

Of course the value of the statistics depends on every type of crime being accurately reported.

What number of rapes and assaults in Chicago are not reported? Are the true numbers higher?

On a small island everything gets reported in the daily newspaper. If someone gets punched in the nose at a bar in St. Thomas it makes the news as an assault......I doubt if it would make the newspaper in Chicago.

TRLK, I'm not trying to be defensive, only to put things into the proper perspective. A significant proportion of the crime takes place with the "locals". Tourists, although infrequently involved, are not normal targets.

Fern:

Sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience.......I hope next time is better.

F.I.

February 14, 2007 04:42PM
Registered:
12/11/2006

135 Posts

"I’m not sure why so many people get so defensive when it comes to crime in the USVI. The worst that could happen is that there would be a backlash from tourists that would force the USVI to clean up crime. "

I haven't seen anyone on this thread get defensive. There is a lot of poverty here so comparing ALL of Chicago with crime here is IMO apples & oranges. Most crime, as has been said frequently happens in the poor sections. That's unfortunate but that happens in the not-so-nice sections everywhere & I'm quite sure the numbers you're wanting to prove your point can be manipulated just as easily the other way i.e. consider the VAST numbers of visitors here on a daily/weekly basis which is quite unlike a city in the States. TRLK, you seem to have some issues with the Virgin Islands & I don't understand why you want to come back if it's so dangerous. I truly don't understand - I'm not being snotty. I'm not scared & I'm here full time & live alone.

Years ago, I got on a plane to NYC & was going to stay at the Plaza. The night before a woman was murdered in a doorway about a block away & I heard about it on the plane. It didn't stop me from going to NY. I HAVE been a repeated victim of very brutal crime but it didn't occur in the VI so I'm no Pollyanna & I don't have my head stuck in the sand.

Fern, I'm truly sorry you were burgled. I don't blame you for that leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

~Trade~

TRLK
February 14, 2007 05:39PM

>>>What number of rapes and assaults in Chicago are not reported? Are the true numbers higher?

Or perhaps numerous rapes and assaults go unreported in the USVI. I know that when you call the cops in Chicago, they actually show up in a timely matter. That doesn’t happen very often in the USVI.



>>>On a small island everything gets reported in the daily newspaper. If someone gets punched in the nose at a bar in St. Thomas it makes the news as an assault......I doubt if it would make the newspaper in Chicago.

The numbers weren’t from the newspaper. They were from the police.

Additionally, if you compare cities of similar size to the USVI (where a punch in the nose would make the paper), the crime statistics are shockingly high in the USVI comparatively. Someone posted that awhile back, and the original poster referred to it.



>>>A significant proportion of the crime takes place with the "locals". Tourists, although infrequently involved, are not normal targets

I did say that. To quote me “Most crime is against locals, not tourists, but you still need to be careful.”



>>>TRLK, you seem to have some issues with the Virgin Islands & I don't understand why you want to come back if it's so dangerous.

I'm obsessed with St. John and think it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I eat, sleep, and breath St. John when I'm not there. If I never vacationed anywhere else for the rest of my life, I'd be perfectly content.

Am I not allowed to vacation there because I don’t think the crime rates should be sugar-coated?

Yes, I think crime is high there, but like I said, I'm careful and so far it has been worth the risk.

I'm simply providing the other side of the story. I know that isn't popular, but I don't think sugar-coating it does anyone any favors.

February 14, 2007 05:39PM
Registered:
02/21/2005

60 Posts
February 14, 2007 06:37PM
Registered:
06/13/2005

1,980 Posts

Let's just all agree to end this thread. This is the same old thread that repeats itself several times each year. If anyone wants to know how this thread would play out - search the archives and find the 15 other threads just like this one. Someone asks for crime info - some forum members give info on crime - other come back saying that it isn't bad and everything is fine - then someone chimes in and tells a chilling tale of their own (the lady whose son and daughter in law were tied up and robbed on STJ, the doctor who was shot at Bolongo, the people robbed on the beach at Secret Harbour...and all the others whose stories are somewhere in this board's history) - then there's a post with stats - then someone debates the stats - then it gets ugly and Islander closes the thread.

We all love each other. This forum is full of people who love the VI. We all go back year after year and live to tell great stories of fun and good times. Those talking about crimes are only trying to help new visitors get smart about their visit - not turn everyone off - and those who are saying that it is fine are only trying to keep the new visitors from being unnecessarily afraid. We have to be fair and honest about it - and protect each other so that everyone can come back with a good TRIP REPORT!! (I need one right about now!)

Everyone's contribution here is correct in some way. I don't see one post that is way off base, IMO.

~Blu

*Here is the link to the FAQ post with lots of links from former posts covering some of our most popular topics: [www.vinow.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/14/2007 06:40PM by Bluwater.

February 14, 2007 07:19PM
Registered:
12/11/2006

135 Posts

But nobody said it was all fine. Nobody was sugar-coating anything.

~Trade~

February 15, 2007 02:05AM
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Registered:
01/20/2005

565 Posts

EC Pirate:

LOL!!!

best to you,
anita.

"do the best that you can in the place where you are, and be kind."
--- scott nearing

cls8506
February 15, 2007 10:05AM

I'm sorry if I resurrected old posts or anything. Definitely didn't mean to try to give the islands a black eye or anything.....just wanted some peace of mind and a valid synopsis of the current state down there. I read the old posts before I asked, as I'm sure many soon-to-be travelers do.
But we, for some reason, have to ask the question ourself.....get current info and help put fears to rest.
Didn't mean to stir the pot and hope I haven't offended anyone.

In my honest opinion, we take risks every day. We risk our lives when we drive to work every day. But we also have rewards for that drive and the relatively low chance of having an accident is enough to offset that, so we don't lock ourselves in our homes.
This is just another example. Yes, there is a risk as with any other vacation or tourist area. Sounds to me like the risk may be slightly higher in the USVI than say vacationing in Florida or the Gulf Coast or something.

But that doesn't mean it's worthy of canceling the trip. It's just important for us to ask the questions so that we can make our own determination of risk vs. reward. And also so we know what to be aware of when we vacation there.
Thanks for all the info from everyone. It's been a great help. The forum is a wonderful resource.

Matt B
February 16, 2007 08:26AM

The only people who try to make light of the crime situation are the people who stand to lose money if the situation becomes well known.

The crime if horrific. Just subscribe to the daily news updates and see how much crime is reported. In the one I just got in my box today there was a cabbie shot, a teenage girl raped at gunpoint, and a teenager who turned himself in after shooting a police officer.

The police department (from my limited view) is a disaster. A friend of mine was robbed about a year ago at gun point and the cop never even wrote a report.


Sign up here...

[www.virginislandsdailynews.com]

February 16, 2007 10:18AM
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Registered:
11/03/2006

1,161 Posts

I don't think any of us are making light of anything. We have the crime, no guarantees can be made. I did not write all that I wrote to make light of it, I wrote my views as a person whom lives here and so that is from my perspective and my tips.
Blu,
Have to be honest and tell you my house, the first one I ever lived in here, had been robbed while we were out. We must of came home while the robber was in the house as they did not take anything (expensive camera equipment) from one of the bedrooms. They took a gold chain which was well hidden, my costume jewelry and an SG Guitar as well as a 6pk of beer from the fridge. Mind you, when I lived back home on 116 acres of land in the country, our house was robbed there as well. What my point was that I have had no personal attacks of any kind on my being. NOT to say, it can't happen!
As I write, I wonder, should I even waste my time. Blu is right, it is time to end this thread. It's all been said!
Best wishes to everyone, regardless whether you choose to come or not. I love it here and have NO intentions of ever moving away! happy

February 16, 2007 10:26AM
Registered:
02/21/2005

60 Posts

It has definitely all been said


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