Personal safety on St John

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Sep 3rd, 2006, 10:06 PM
  #1
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Personal safety on St John

I was surprised to read about armed robberies inside restaurants (when open and populated with patrons /tourists) and inside other businesses in Coral Bay within the last year -- which prompted the police to open a police substation on that part of the island. See link to Virgian Island Daily News. http://www.virginislandsdailynews.co...me?id=11949600.

I am not an alarmist and don't mean to suggest that crime is out of control on St John. But I do want to feel safe on vacation. That article, together with reports in this forum of villa break-ins -- at night when people are home -- caused me think. Should I avoid renting a villa in Coral Bay? Should I avoid isolated villas altogether and instead look for villas in compounds/neighborhoods, preferably where security guards are provided? Are there certain parts of the island we should avoid at night, or even during the day?

I understand that I could take no special precautions, and rent any villa on the island, and statistically speaking, I would have little chance of becoming a victim during my week on the island. But I want my family to feel safe.

I would like to hear from people who really know the island -- including its crime problems -- who can speak to my concerns. Specific recomendations for villas (and parts of the island) would be appreciated.

Thanks.

David
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Sep 4th, 2006, 10:39 AM
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As someone who has a house in Coral Bay, considered very quiet and peaceful,and where we've never experienced any security issues, I'd still tell anyone to keep your wits about you. There's always a chance, no matter where you vacation that you could be victimized. There are instances of theft/break-ins on every part of the island, but it is still statistically low. Crime is by no means out of control on St. John. But it does exist, and the best precaution is not to check-in your brain at the airport. Don't leave things unlocked. Don't count your money in public, and know where everyone is at every moment. Common sense stuff.
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Sep 4th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Zanabill, we're planning a trip for next summer. Looks like your luck wouldn't necessarily be any better in Cruz Bay...

http://www.virginislandsdailynews.co...me?id=17595818
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Sep 4th, 2006, 07:43 PM
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I left St John a few months ago becaue of the problems niow facing st john.

All political and other leaders dont care what's happened.

See this latest attack from August 10th.

http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/cgi-...030/003096.htm

Stay away until justice is done.
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Sep 4th, 2006, 08:30 PM
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Carib: I too am concerned about that attack, but sh*t happens sometimes when you meander home at 3 in the morning. Not to diminish or ameliorate in any way the horrific tragedy of the incident, but terrible things occasionally happen even in paradise. That said, I wouldn't tell people not to come to Connecticut just because we experience crime here.
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Sep 5th, 2006, 05:47 AM
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As with anything else, you have to use common sense. Not to blame the victim here, but does anyone think it would be a good idea to go to a bar late at night, drink and have no safe means of transportation arranged, walk in the dark alone after consuming alcohol in a strange place...hummm does not sound like a great idea to me. I wouldn't do it anywhere. Again, I am sure there is more to this story than we are hearing, there always is, however, to be safe on vacation (or at home) common sense does come into play.
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Sep 5th, 2006, 10:07 AM
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MIM04: You are right, it is more than appears on the surface. We just came back from STJ and I talked with the locals regarding the attack. It was extremely unfortunate and should not have happened despite the victim's not-so-smart actions. He walked by the public tennis courts area where the new marina is. Where he was attacked is a dimly-lit, nonresidential area where there are few pedestrians even during the day. A group of derelict teenagers have been seen hanging around that area on many occasions. Lord knows what they're doing hanging around at 3 a.m., but it's always a recipe for disaster. This sort of thing happens the world over... kids without supervision and guidance. It's a parenting issue that's become a crime issue. As for overall personal safety issues, I don't think Zanabill and his family is going to exposed to the above set of circumstances. With regard to the incidents of armed robbery in Coral Bay, it seems there was a rash for a bit. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt in any and no one even had to find out if there were even any bullets in the gun. The police have always intended to open a substation in Coral Bay as it is a good 25 minutes from Cruz Bay and should have its own security presence. The rash of incidents may have prompted the action sooner but by no means was the sole reason. Zanabill: There are many villas which have security measures. When researching villas, simply ask the agent to recommend only villas which have a security system or other provisions. You should definitely feel safe enough to relax on vacation. I think I speak for other STJ afficiondos when I say, a little extra precaution taken is worth it for spending time on this beautiful island.
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Sep 5th, 2006, 11:04 AM
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I have not heard about this.Very scary and sad.

I have been to St John 2 times and never felt unsafe even walking around late at night.(I know..I was not using common sense)

We also had a rental car.I would suggest renting a car and use common sense and you will be fine.

Christie
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Sep 5th, 2006, 01:51 PM
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I really appreciate the sentiments about st. john. But the sitaution is more serious than what you are posting here.

You can't "poo poo" or blame the victim.

In fact-the incident has reached the entire Caribbean and the victim wants justice:
http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/cgi-...030/003096.htm

The fact remains that there are serious racial and socio-economic issues facing the island.

The racial attack isnt the first. For the past 17 months there have been a series of murders, robberies, arson and other problems rearing their ugly heads...and i and many others left the island because of this and other factors.

The economy will also sputter because Westin Resort closed 186 rooms to convert to 96 time shares that wont realize their potential until 2008.

I'd hold off on st john for a year.
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Sep 5th, 2006, 03:09 PM
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I'm sorry, but I simply don't agree with "Holding Off" on St John for a year. I live in the northeast about 40 mins west of Boston. Every single day, there is some sort of shooting or other crime happening in Boston.....yes, that's right, EVERY day. But that doesn't keep my wife & I from going into town, and enjoying the erstaurants or shows.

The crime on St John is certainly unfortunate, but any major US city has crime rates way beyond what St John will ever see. Sorry, I simply do not choose to live in paranoia. Use your head, and don't put yourself in bad situations.

If someone thinks that we should hold off for a year in visiting St John, I'd love to hear their opinions of Jamaica...LOL.
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Sep 5th, 2006, 06:25 PM
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Please do yourself a favor and read my post...

http://www.fodors.com/forums/postrep...0&tid=34842260

Use common sense when traveling and use the same safety precautions you take when at home. Just because YOU are on vacation...doesn't mean those around you are.

I also topped it...
Debi
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Sep 5th, 2006, 09:08 PM
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Scott: Personally, we actually feel safer in Jamaica than STJ. In Jamaica, the personal assaults/battery/robbery is typically resident vs resident. In the VI, that is not the case as tourists are more likely to be involved in such. I have lived and visited the VI extensively and traveled Jamaica for 20+ years. Jamaica gets a bad rap for the open poverty it portrays and the associated assumption that tourists are victims of crime. Not so.
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Sep 5th, 2006, 09:38 PM
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I am learning a lot. Thanks Debi for sharing your post and the Conde Nast article. A little more surfing yielded The St John Trade Winds News article about two armed robberies of tourists at villas -- one around 10 pm when the couple was returning to their villa in Klein Bay and the other occuring during the day in Gift Hill, with the couple home. http://www.tradewinds.vi/index.php?o...b98600a266877d

I suppose for perspective, in Rochester this evening one young man was shot and killed in gang violence while another young man was shot and killed by police (after trying to shoot the officer). Even so, I feel very safe in my suburban home (alarm system yes; window grates no; perimeter lighting no). I don't want to feel less safe on vacation. I must admit, I don't like what I am reading about St John's crime problems and I am re-thinking renting a villa.

David
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Sep 6th, 2006, 05:37 AM
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On our last trip to St John (Sept.05)we spook with some locals (and I mean NATIVES)they expressed some of the problems going on in STJ.Alot of it is people that have moved there and take their jobs.I can understand the frustration that this must cause.This has also caused the cost of living to go up there.

The Natives we spook to were very friendly, probably because we took the time to talk with them and we were interested in how there lives are in the VI.

I will still continue to go back to St John...it is a lovely island.

Christie
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Sep 6th, 2006, 08:10 AM
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We have been to STJ twice and are planning a third trip. We have always felt safe, and I think it's a shame to avoid a such a great island because of these incidents--when we have so much crime in our own country.

St. John is a beautiful place and based on the traveling that we have done, I think you would be hard pressed to find a place that doesn't have crime to some degree. The list of places to go would be short indeed!

We will keep going back to STJ and envy Tuxedocat for her hopefully soon-to-be-completed home there!!

Melissa
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Sep 6th, 2006, 11:07 AM
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St. John is a beautiful place and we loved our trip there this past April. We stayed with friends who have lived there for 8 years now.

I think the key to travel...ANYWHERE...is to use good old common sense and don't do things that you wouldn't do at home [leaving valuables visible in a car; leaving doors unlocked; that sort of thing]. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't wander off in the dark alone...things you'd never do at home. Again, just because YOU are on vacation doesn't mean that those that might do harm are on vacation.

And if you stay in private home ANYWHERE, ask lots of questions about the house, location, security etc.

Hope this helps...

Debi
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Sep 6th, 2006, 01:25 PM
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Thanks to ALL who posted links/info.

What I "got" from Carib's posted article, is the victim's anger that no one seems to be following up---not just the fact of the crime. Agreed, the man put himself in vulnerable postion--but what he perceives as the weak response from local authorities is adding insult to injury.
I LOVE St John and hope to return many times. But any long time residents there --VI born and "transplanted" -- will tell you with a mixture of frustration, shrugging, and humor, about lack of follow-up on numerous issues: the milions of $$ wasted or "disappearred " (road-paving projects paid for 3 times in full, before finally getting done; the car-ferry harbor project that is finally completed, after wasted big bucks over decades) . Reading residents threads on some of the USVI sites may give other examples .
That said, in one of my replies to you (re: villa chouce) Zanabill, i said what others have wisely pointed out: the need for comon sense.
I've never felt unsafe on either StT or StJ, whether alone or with family, despite some unnerving stories.
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Sep 6th, 2006, 02:30 PM
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A postscript to the problems on st john just came to light today.

The town is losing 2 of its 3 gas stations ie 1 permanently-the other for probably 6 months...only gas all the way out in coral bay 9 miles from cruz bay and over all the mountains and winding roads:

http://www.virginislandsdailynews.co...me?id=17596355

again--i'd stay away for a while.
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Sep 6th, 2006, 02:45 PM
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Fogot to tell you about this one as well.
This will give you more background on tourist attack.
http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/cgi-...030/003096.htm
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Sep 6th, 2006, 05:14 PM
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Have they ever arrested the murderer of Lois McMillan in Tortola after the Americans were set free?
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