St. Thomas crime - NOT

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Jan 4th, 2002, 06:02 AM
  #1
chazz
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St. Thomas crime - NOT

We just returned from 8 days on St. Thomas. I don't have time to do a full trip report yet, but I just wanted to report that we were pleasantly surprised by how safe we felt, and how friendly the people were.

I had seen so many horror stories, on this board and elsewhere, that I was expecting a very different environment from the one we encountered. There was not a single time we felt unsafe. We did not encounter a single hostile or sullen waiter, bartender, store clerk, etc. etc.

Granted, we spent very little time in Charlotte Amalie and didn't run around much after dark - although we did go a few places at night. We drove all over the island during the daytime, on the more major roads. We stayed near Red Hook (Crystal Cove) and felt very safe in that area.

Lest I be labelled a total Pollyanna, I will say that I would not choose to stay in a hotel in the city of Charlotte Amalie, as I would probably not be comfortable leaving the premises after dark. I read the local paper's police blotter every day, and I have no doubt the crime rate is relatively high, but the problems seem to occur in areas where a tourist would have no reason to go.

Compared to Jamaica, we felt 10 times safer and 100 times less harassed. Compared to Aruba, we felt almost as safe.

Probably the best pre-trip advice I found on the 'Net was to start each conversation with a Good Morning, Good Day, or Good Evening. The response was always cordial.

Don't stay away from this island because of rumors about crime. It's a mistake we almost made.








 
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Jan 4th, 2002, 12:48 PM
  #2
mrt
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ttt
 
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Jan 5th, 2002, 08:32 AM
  #3
Darlene
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Completely agree wih Chazz. My husband and I, along with another couple, went to St. Thomas last May. We stay at Bluebeard's Castle Resort (overlooks the harbor where all the ships come in and the town of Charlotte Amalie). Would not have purposely booked a trip there but our timeshare company indicated that they had an opening when I called at this property (a "asked for" resort). Stories I'd heard in the past were very unfavorable (because of the "high crime rate"). We felt as safe as we had on our trips to Aruba and Grand Cayman. Walked around town for shopping and had an absolutely great "happy hour" time in one of the restaurants there (we are NOT heavy drinkers but the atmosphere was so much fun). We're snorkelers; our friends divers. We rented a car and toured the entire island and always felt safe on our way to and at our destinations. Won't say that the snorkeling was anywhere near as good as Grand Cayman or the beaches comparable to Seven Mile but they were very nice. A "to die" for meal at the resort...food was superb as was the service and view from our table; many great places to eat, tour, shop, etc. Do GO and don't worry about crime unless of course, as chazz said, you are where you shouldn't be. DO be careful driving though...winding, hilly roads...sometimes like a rollercoaster ride..and the driving is on the left hand side...just take it slow and be careful. And, lastly, take a side trip to St. John or the British VI...we did St. John but not there long enough (great boutique shopping)...looking forward to the BVI. Enjoy...we did...surprisingly.
 
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Jan 5th, 2002, 12:28 PM
  #4
Schultz
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Hi There,

I'm really glad to hear that you had a great time and didn't feel as though you were 'running for your life' the whole time as Mike, Joel, Alan and some others who are afraid to list their email addresses would have you believe is the situation in the USVI.

You've just encountered what I have found in the USVI and BVI for the past fifteen years......a great place to vacation with friendly people and 'no problems' for those who use their common sense.

Hope to see you back on-island soon.

Schultz
 
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Jan 6th, 2002, 11:47 AM
  #5
scf
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Just returned from my first trip St. T homas and St. JOhn's and had a wonderful time. Of course used some caution like locking the car and things that are advised and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Dining was good, beaches were wonderful and the natives were kind and helpful with helping strangers! Taxi drivers were just great with suggestions of where to go what to do (and what to avoid). Would not hesitate to return in a heartbeat. That full moon on the water was just postcard perfection as you sat on the beach! It's snowing here now - what a bummer.
 
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Jan 6th, 2002, 11:57 AM
  #6
Susan
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Wow scf, sounds like a perfect advertisement for the USVI!!! And chazz and schultz, aren't you the "regulars" from usvi-on-line.com? Since you're experts, can you tell us if the non-violent crime rate in the USVI is much higher than it is here in the US? As I've been reading here and on that site, the St. Thomas Source reported that the USVI has a "chronic high rate of violent crime" with its murder rate now over 5 times higher in the USVI than in the US. But how about the other crime rates, are they way higher as well? Just wondering since we're trying to decide if the USVI is "safe enough" or if we should try one of the islands with much lower crime rates.
 
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Jan 6th, 2002, 12:23 PM
  #7
chazz
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Susan -
I can't consider myself an expert, as this was my first trip to St. Thomas. I did ask quite a few questions on the USVI board prior to my vacation.

I'm sure there are safer islands in the Caribbean. In choosing a destination, most of us will consider several criteria: cost, beaches, safety, snorkeling/diving, hiking and other activities, whether it's a good island for kids (we took a 16-year-old), etc., depending on what's most important to you.

I guess the main point of my original post was that a lot of people paint a dismal picture of St. Thomas that we just didn't find to be accurate.
Our previous trip was to Aruba, which is probably a somewhat safer island than St. Thomas. However, I hope to return to the VI, not to Aruba, because of superior scenery, snorkeling and sailing opportunities. I feel that these factors outweigh a small difference in perceived safety.


 
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Jan 6th, 2002, 12:42 PM
  #8
Susan
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Chazz - you started a thread by saying "crime - NOT" with statements like "rumors about crime" when we now know the FACT that the crime rate is much higher than most would imagine. Isn't downplaying the situation just as bad as the overplaying that you accuse others of? Would you like it if others started a thread by saying something much more inflammatory than "Crime in St. Thomas"? How about "30 people butchered this year in the Virgin Islands"?

I knew about Jamaica being potentially
dangerous, but had no idea there were any crime problems in the USVI, such as St. Thomas where the murder rate is amazingly 7 times higher than the US. And villa breakins in St. John are widely discussed on various travel forums. Maybe reading about this will help people avoid similar tragedies.
 
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Jan 6th, 2002, 04:28 PM
  #9
Karen
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It is very sad that if someone posts anything positive about the USVI that they are immediately villified as having a financial interest, a member of a tourist board or lying. Personally I am glad that Chazz enjoyed the USVI and reported here and hope that the information shared before the trip helped her have a great and safe trip. Along with the thousands of visitors on the island daily (including an increase of 4% in cruise ship passengers), she reports the VI's far exceeded her expectations and she encountered no crime problems. That has been my experience as well having traveled to the USVI multiple time each year for more than 30 years. Discuss the crime, openly and honestly - in fact no one recognizes the problem more than the "regulars" you disdain on the boards. The people who live and visit frequently are very aware of the situation, do not hide it and post stategies to visit safely unlike other islands that hide their statistics. But to deny a person who had a pleasurable time the opportunity to share the experiences and attack them is nothing more than the continued escalation of the negative agenda of those who need to do that - and for the life of me, I can't understand that need other than to inflame or incite. I wonder what the actual population is on STT including all those "residents" who are not counted because they still maintain homes stateside. The fact that large numbers of the population are not used in calculating statistics might also scewer the figures but do not intrepret that to mean that I am hiding the Truth. One murder is one murder too many. How many tourists were murdered? But why not get out and do something active about the problems and conditions that underline the crime rate instead of maligning at every opportunity one has on every board you can find using various screen names and invalid email addresses!
-I have no financial interests in the USVI, I am not on a tourist board and I have more to do than sit around recruiting visitors to the USVI by lying about conditions and situations there and that is true for the other posters who I am familiar with!
 
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Jan 6th, 2002, 05:06 PM
  #10
John
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So Karen, is the St. Thomas Source villifying, or are their statistics true? As for accusing others of invalid email email addresses, it looks like you just used "[email protected]"! Isn't that hypocritical? I think a discussion of the FACTS is a good balance to all the cheerleaders with agendas here. I commend Fodors for letting this discussion go on. On boards specializing in the USVI, crime discussions are censored quite frequently. By the way, people posting links to some crime statistics isn't maligning. If one person comes away better informed it may be one life saved!
 
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Jan 7th, 2002, 07:12 AM
  #11
Karen
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As I stated no one denies the reports in the papers for STT, for Tortola or for any island as a matter of fact. I was addressing the need of some to negate that there are thousands of visitors who visit the USVI daily and encounter none of the local crime issues. I have seen Anthony on USVI-on-line delete those posts that are inflammatory and delve into the political and social issues of the crime problems posted by some who have an alternate agenda than discussing travel-related information and those boards/discussions is open to travel-related subjects including the need to be aware of the realities of traveling to the USVI. The "cheerleaders," as you call them since you could not answer my question about the hidden agnendas, are very forthcoming with the need to avoid some areas and situations and the need to be safe! That is the villification that I am talking about.
 
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Jan 7th, 2002, 12:34 PM
  #12
anon
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Karen has some excellent points to make and I can't contribute too much more. Yes, I prefer to remain anonymous but if I ever post anything on this site it's because I have a point to make without feeling the need to reveal my identity. I'm a VERY long-time resident of the USVI, I DO have my own business now since six years ago, I DON"T have a "hidden agenda" insofar as trying to wash over the crime rate but I DO know that the majority of these killings have been local druggies vs. local druggies and they are NOT downplayed in the press, invariably making front-page news. Those of us who live and work here and consider this "home" DO take offense at these alleged know-it-alls who log onto St. Thomas Source with the pure intent of using crime statistics to denigrate those such as Chazz and Darlene who write to simply say that they felt safe and had a wonderful time - they along with hundreds of thousands who feel the same way but don't log on here. I guess you doomsayers don't have anything much to do except denigrate the islands and those people who say nice things about them? As a longtime resident and a business owner who caters mainly to locals and not to the tourist sector, I have no hidden agenda in making light of anything to do with crime here. I've been the brunt of crime myself - but I still live here and work here and know very well that your average tourist is perfectly safe here as long as he observes the simple rules of safety which are well posted and which apply to travelers wherever they go.
 
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Jan 7th, 2002, 01:06 PM
  #13
Jeff
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I visited the USVI back when crime was hardly an issue. So the threads about crime caught my eye. I researched the numerous crime reports on the St. Thomas Source at www.onepaper.com/stthomasvi and it looks to me like the people quoted in those articles do not downplay the situation. But some people here on this and other boards DO downplay the issue. Of course some also overplay it, and many people post real trip reports. But let's be HONEST, there are many people here with financial interests, etc etc etc doing damage control. They are SO easy to spot. This is the internet, every post is suspect here, you will never know for sure.

Most of Chazz's trip report seems fair, pointing out the good and bad. But as Susan said, the name of the thread itself, and implying the crime is "rumors" when there are solid statistics from the St. Thomas Source, is somewhat disingenuous.

Darlene's report also seems fair, but I have some problems with Schultz's response. He conjures up a conspiracy theory that those who don't post their email addy "would have you believe..."
What a crock! It's ALL anonymous here, as well as on boards where you "register". For all we know, Schultz with his "real" email addy is a little old lady from Pasadena, or a villa owner faced with a slow economy! Schultz says "no problems" for those who use common sense. Well I just read the article about the guy shot in the back downtown in St. Thomas in broad daylight. HE has a problem, he is paralyzed at 19 years of age.

Karen claims that anyone saying something positive is villified. Maybe that's because with so many fake reports, the good ones are also suddenly questionable. Someone just spammed this board 4 times about their villa recently, so it is no wonder. Anyone saying anything negative is ALSO often villified, so it evens out. Karen's high profile here has left me wondering about her motive(s). She has mentioned that she has several friends who belong as owners of Caribbean Villa Owners Assoc, so I tend to filter her opinions accordingly. She claims to have no financial interest. That might be true, might not. There is no way we can ever really know. Being a "regular" means NOTHING as far as motives. For all we know Karen and Schultz could be the same person with multiple screen names. Or I could be Karen and Schultz.....etc

Bottom line......... someone who posts a link to crime statistics from a solid source is putting info out there for us to make up our own minds about. I appreciate that since I might go back for a visit someday. Without the St. Thomas Source, I would not likely have found out that the murder rate in St. Thomas is now 7 times what it is in the USA. After reading so many posts here claiming that the rate is no worse than in the States, it is good to finally see some hard facts from a solid source rather than from another of a zillion anonymous claims. No doubt some people would stop the St. Thomas Source from making that info public if they could since a few might be scared away. If anyone has more links to more info that we can evaluate ourselves, please post them! Full disclosure!
 
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Jan 7th, 2002, 01:13 PM
  #14
Ret.Navy
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There's a reason the US Navy stopped docking at St. Thomas...
 
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Jan 7th, 2002, 11:48 PM
  #15
Tim
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No matter how you slice it, it's a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE place -- PERIOD!!!!!
 
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Jan 10th, 2002, 04:46 PM
  #16
Schultz
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Well here goes the same old garbage again.....

For you who claims to be in the navy, you might want to talk to the many members of the US Navy who are still visiting St. Thomas.....I know of several who are emailing me with reports from the war front while serving on the Teddy Roosevelt who have freat memories of visiting the USVI and look forward to doing so again.

As for the other comments......what is important to me is how 'statistics' affect my visits to the islands. For fifteen plus years I have visited the USVI, mostly on STT and have NEVER had a first hand ecperience with this massive crime wave so many posters seem to like to talk about.

As for comparing an statistics on a self contained, small island with US mainland statistics.....doesn't make sense. I learned a long time ago in trial procedure that I can skew statistics to prove any point I want to. Look at the number of serious crimes on STT that affect tourists.....not many. If you bothered to read those stories you like to quote statistics from....you would learn that most violent crime....as with most caribbean island nations is between locals and not against tourists.

Like Karen, I think the folks who run this bboard do a great dis-service to the first time tourists who are looking for good, honest information about the island by not controlling the spurious postings that some 'flamers' like to use to sensationalize the board.

Just my opinion...and we all know what that means.

Schultz
 
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Jan 10th, 2002, 07:46 PM
  #17
Karen
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Nope, sorry, but no financial interests unfortunately at this point. But after 30 years of traveling to the USVI (St. John, St. Thomas AND St. Croix) and the last 10 - 12 years of staying in the same place for many days out of the winter, I have gotten to know many ex pats and islanders some of whom do have villas (and interestingly enuf I'm not even familiar with 'em and that's why I won't comment on them). On St. John, I am a Caneel person! I know I always wanted to live in the midwest but Schultz can have the winters there - I'll stick to the NE and since he has stayed at many resorts on STT and I haven't I always defer to his experteze about them except for the grounds and what I have seen or experienced in the restaurants of the resorts. As to the Navy, too many ships have docked there recently including the TRoosevelt when it was on its way to Afganastan just this December and last year the Admiral was staying in the condo right above me while the fleet was there! The Navy not going there is very old news! They do say the increased MP's during the visits is for the protection of the islanders not for self protection! LOL
Sure there is crime but I've not had a problem with it but if you check the stories about Geoff Kennedy and what happened that day there still is some unaswered questions in the press ... and not that Geoff deserved to be shot or that it should have happened (and his parents are terrific wonderful people too - I remember Geoff when he was a wee bit younger and a dynamite tennis player until he found surfing and what happened was horrid!) but some people always wondered what the heck someone who is familiar, and they are, with STT got caught up in such a horrible situation! He just didn't get the press that Lois McMillian did on Tortola. I will NOT deny that there are problems but for each crime story there are many good stories and if you check carefully you find that there are few crimes that involve tourists (and Geoff was not a "tourist.") No problem discussing the crime which is a political hot potato and being realistic but I think that it is important that some balance and objectivity be posted. After all, how long ago was the Navy not docking, how long ago was Geoff shot? Some are still talking about the 2 men out on BlueBeard's Beach years and years ago when they were doing something that wasn't okay somewhere they shouldn't have been. Not that they deserved to wind up dead but one has to question why people wind up in situations like that at times. It is important to be careful, to be vigilent and be aware no matter where you travel. People do sometimes take risks and suffer consequences. I wouldn't even go down to a deserted beach here at home at nite and hang out by myself much less in the islands nor would I go to known hangouts and the Estates but that's where common sense and good judgment comes in! I just hate to see a whole island, a whole population, damned because of a couple of posters (or one) who repeatedly post the same information with the intent to scare off people or inflame and not inform them! And the best part is that at least it's right out there for discussion and knowledge unlike so many islands where it is kept a big dark secret! That's even scarier!
 
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Jan 10th, 2002, 09:15 PM
  #18
Anthony
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There are WAY more people here trying to drum up business than there are people trying to scare anyone away.

Bottom line: the murder rate in the USVI is more than 5 times what it is the the States - deal with it!

By the way, I like Jamaica - and I support posting all the statistics anyone can find so that everyone is well informed. You won't find me trying to explain them away and downplaying them! Got to wonder who these people are who go BALLISTIC at the mere revealing of statistics... Chill out guys, you come here to have fun don't you??? Happiness comes from within....

Happy Travels...
 
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Jan 11th, 2002, 01:57 AM
  #19
Tim
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Why surely this couldn't possibly be the REAL Anthony from usvi-on-line, could it? The very same Anthony who worships and adores those HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE islands?!?!!!!!!!
 
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Jan 11th, 2002, 06:50 AM
  #20
The Real Anthony
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Someone has been posting here using the name Anthony and the email address [email protected] - well I just want to let everyone know that it is not me, Anthony F. who owns and maintains USVI-On-Line -
 
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