Crimes against tourists in Bahamas has US worried

NASSAU, Bahamas, Monday May 21, 2012 – The United States Department of State’s Bahamas 2012 Crime and Safety Report, which was recently released, is reflecting concerns about the increasing crimes involving tourists on the popular holiday destination.

“Armed robberies, property theft, purse snatchings, and general theft of personal property remain the most common crimes against tourists. There has been a dramatic increase in general crimes in 2011,” stated the report.

It added: “In previous years, most violent crimes involved mainly Bahamian citizens and occurred in ‘Over-the-Hill’ areas, which are not frequented by tourists.

“However, in 2011 there were numerous incidents reported that involved tourists or have occurred in areas in tourist locations. These incidents have specifically occurred in the downtown areas, to include the cruise ship dock (Prince George Wharf) and the Cable Beach commerce areas.

According to the report, the crime threat level in New Providence in The Bahamas is “critical” while that in Grand Bahama is “high”.

“The [US] Embassy has received reports of burglaries and thefts, especially thefts of boats and/or outboard motors on some of the Family Islands,” the report said.

According to the report, in late 2011, there were “numerous reports by cruise ship tourists and others regarding incidents of armed robberies of cash and jewellery. These incidents were reported during daylight and night time hours.”

The report drew links between these increased types of crime and the booming cash-for-gold business in The Bahamas.

The report also noted that the US Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships.

“In several incidents, the victim had reportedly been drugged,” the report said.

“The Bahamas has the highest incidence of reported rape in the world, according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime, violence, and development trends. The number of reported rapes increased 37 percent from 78 in 2010 to 107 in 2011.

“Two American citizens were murdered in Nassau in 2009, both in residential areas. Home break-ins, theft and robbery are not confined to any specific part of the island.”

The report illustrated through crime statistics that murder and armed robberies in the Bahamas have escalated: “There were 127 homicides in The Bahamas in 2011, up from 94 in 2010, with nearly all the victims being Bahamian. This is a 35 percent increase from 2010.”

The report cited the police opinion that many of the murders were related to drugs, domestic violence and retaliation/retribution.

While acknowledging that tourists are not always the intended target of crime, the report cautioned that even as innocent bystanders they could be victimised. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)