Friday, May 18, 2012

...the latest in a series of reports highlighting the crime problem in The Bahamas

U.S. report: Crime threat level critical

‘Numerous’ incidents against tourists

By Krystel Rolle
Guardian Staff Reporter

The United States Department of State has rated the crime threat level in New Providence as “critical” and “high” in Grand Bahama.

“New Providence Island, in particular, has experienced a spike in crime that has adversely affected the traveling public,” said the Bahamas 2012 Crime and Safety Report, which was recently released. “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.”

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.

“Residential security also remains a great concern as the number of incidents involving house burglaries and break-ins has also increased.”

In last year’s report, The Bahamas’ crime rate was rated as “high” overall. New Providence and Grand Bahama’s crime threat levels were not separated in that report as it was done this year.

The latest report notes however that criminal activity in the Family Islands occurs on a much lesser degree than on New Providence.

“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.

“The Bahamas has experienced a spate of armed robberies at gas stations, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, banks and residences.

“Perpetrators of these types of crimes typically conduct pre-attack surveillance by watching the intended victim.

“There were several reports in 2011 of victims being followed home after closing the business in an attempt to steal the nightly deposit. Several victims were severely injured. This underscores that common activities can directly impact personal security.”

The report also provided crime statistics, specifically pointing out that murder and armed robberies have dramatically increased.

“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,” it said.

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

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 jewelry. These incidents were reported during daylight and night time hours.”

The report said that the cash-for-gold business in The Bahamas may have resulted in the increase of these types of crime.

The report noted that the U.S. 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 noted that while tourists are not always the intended target of crime they could be impacted by being innocent bystanders.

The report, is the latest in a series of reports highlighting the crime problem in the country.

May 18, 2012