St. Thomas is dangerous

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Jan 12th, 2013, 01:03 PM
  #1
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St. Thomas is dangerous

My husband was held up at gunpoint by a couple young kids near Coki Beach, actually on Point Pleasant. In broad day light. Hotel security responded in about 15 min, the police took about 25 min. Neither took the incident seriously. The cop spoke only to the security officer and completely ignored my husband. They seemed to be irritated that we were wasting their time. {OK, so they pulled a gun on you, you're OK, I'm sure they weren't going to shoot you. Go on your way. This is the way it is around here.) They refused to provide copies of their "reports" . Coki Beach is crawling with strung out locals. St. Thomas (at least the East End) is completely run down. It is not a safe place. And the government is doing nothing to change it. I feel sorry for the people who own property here, this place is a war zone. Half the buildings are not even occupied. Entire hotels/complexes are boarded up. If you come here, travel in groups and watch your back. However, I wouldn't bother.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 08:13 AM
  #2
 
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St. Thomas has always made me a bit nervous and most of my experience there was ten years ago.

The BVI is completely the opposite. Tortola is getting a bit busy, but Virgin Gorda is still the kind of place where you don't lock your house and you leave the keys in your car.

Its a bit more difficult to get to VG but its definitely worth the effort.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 11:08 AM
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I'm very sorry to hear of your experience, but this happens every day in most US cities.....should we stay away from them as well?
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Jan 14th, 2013, 11:32 AM
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It's never happened to me in a North American city ...

Thanks Chris1. I was thinking of a couple of days there ... guess i'll keep those extra days on JVD instead.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 12:20 PM
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I don't really agree with the characterization of east end St. Thomas as a run down war zone -- but I do agree that there are much better places to visit on the island than the Coki Beach area. I'm very sorry to hear about your scary experience there.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 06:24 PM
  #6
KVR
 
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St. Thomas has been a questionable destination for years. We finally went in 2005 and had a nice time. Too bad about Coki Beach as we found some of the best snorkling there. We saw several locals sitting along the fence line smoking weed, but they weren't bothering anyone.

The cruise ships haven't found it too bad to stop bringing passengers there. I've been searching cruises for this year and almost every route includes it. I can say it was not our favorite Island and we have no desire to go back, but we might have no choice due to the cruises we are looking at.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 07:13 PM
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A few years ago a Carnival cruise passenger was caught in crossfire on or around the Coki Beach area. She was killed. Ships did stop there for awhile, not sure how long, but obvioulsy it was not enough to stop the ships from going there. I know we have been on many cruises and all stop in St. Thomas. I really like it there myself, it is a shame. I have not found the people there to be as friendly or warm as other islands.
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Jan 15th, 2013, 01:11 AM
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There is crime all over the Caribbean but some of it never makes headlines in the US because it happens to non US citizens.
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Jan 15th, 2013, 08:42 AM
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I'll only add a couple of things here. I've just had an email exchange with our writer who lives in St. Thomas. She made a couple of useful observations that I'd like to share.

First, the police in St. Thomas won't give out their reports. You have to go to the police station and pay a fee to get a copy (and you will need a copy to file with your insurance). I didn't know that, so that's useful information for anyone to have.

Second, she made the following comments about Coki Beach in particular: "Coki Beach has lots of local families there. We were there two months ago for Reef Jam, and it's laid back. I did not smell pot in the air as I did several years ago. I wouldn’t call all young west Indians hanging out ‘strung out’."

Third, regarding the East End, she writes: "The East End isn’t run down. In fact, the Red Hook area is thriving with many shops and restaurants. I just recommended staying there last night to a friend .... In fact, many people go restaurant/bar hopping on foot in Red Hook at night and it’s safe. I haven’t heard of a problem of crime."

And finally, regarding boarded up properties: "I can’t think of entire hotel/complexes that are boarded up. Not one. There are houses that haven’t been rebuilt after hurricanes and you’ll see these here and there as you drive around, but they are not the majority."

I know there are crime issues in St. Thomas, but we have to keep things in perspective and be both realistic about our expectations and accurate in our descriptions. There's no reason anyone should avoid St. Thomas unless they don't like that kind of built-up island. The OP is understandably upset about this incident, but that doesn't mean we should indict all residents of St. Thomas.

I've been to St. Thomas several times, and I personally don't feel that crime there is any worse than in many places in the Caribbean, but there is definitely crime (though I would argue still much less than in most big U.S. resort areas), and it can't be ignored.

The shooting at Coki Beach in July 2010 kept ship exursions out of that area of St. Thomas for a few weeks until the island instituted a clean-up of the area, and then the excursions returned and continue to this day. I've heard of no further violent incidents. No ships cancelled their calls in St. Thomas, however.
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Jan 15th, 2013, 05:39 PM
  #10
 
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I would like to add that the OP states the incident happened at Point Pleasant, which is not really near Coki Point. They may have been looking over at the old Renaissance, which is closed. And I am sorry for their experience, but it is not the typical one for visitors.

One other small comment, on her Coki Beach review, chris1 wrote about locals who wouldn't look her in the eye. She indicated they are "arrogant." This is a fairly common behavior in the Caribbean, the roots are difficult to explain. It is a cultural difference but not arrogance.
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Feb 20th, 2013, 07:53 AM
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I stayed near the Governor's mansion, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, for a few days, the end of January 2013, before spending 30 days in a villa on St. John (East End).

I did not feel safe walking around, after dark, on the side streets. Most locals told me to use common sense, which I did. However, common sense never made me feel safe.

Paying for taxi fares was also an issue. The driver quotes one price, then ask for more at your destination. It cost my wife and I, $24, for a very short drive from the airport to the Governor's Mansion. We only had two "carry ons".

St. John felt safer, however, the mosquitoes were plentiful and terrible. My villa was high on the hill, near Haul-over Bay. We used multiple cans of Off (DEET), but that didn't seem to deter the little buggers. It was so bad, I wouldn't visit St. John again. This was my first visit.

The mosquitoes were worst inside the house, then out by the pool. St. John is beautiful, but buggy.
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Jul 16th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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I lived for two years on St John and St Thomas. I'm a chef and moved to St John first. I had been there before and had a job set up (a story for another time)and new quite a few ex pats and locals...I was put up in a condo at Gallows Point. Personally, I had no problems with crime. After a few months I opted out of my job and moved over to St Thomas...I was the chef a The Mark St Thomas, a beautiful old house now a B&B up in the hills just above 99 steps overlooking the harbor. I was living in a condo at Cowpet Bay and got to work. I immeadiatly did not like the vibe of the island. I hired locals and expats to work the restaurant to be fair about hiring. I met many locals, professionals,tradesmen,suppliers ect and went about my business which was thriving. One night after work at about midnight, I was headed to a friends house near Magens Bay in my jeep..I came to a switchback, downshifted into second gear and some lunatic jumped from the shadows and jumped in the shotgun seat and put a knife to my throat. I tried to stay calm but almost pissed myself. I quietly asked what he wanted (dumb question) and he said money and credit cards..I could clearly see his features...I gave him a billfold with about $30, and told him it was all I had and didn't carry credit cards...All the while driving per his instructions to his neighborhood near a shopping center and movie theater in the hills above Red Hook...I pulled over (he still had the knife to my throat,he jumped out nicking me and ran off...Low and behold, he didn't make me shut off the car or take my keys...I took off after him (he was fast as hell...my intention was to run him down...But I thought clearly about this a restrained myself. I would have been arrested and put in the most horrible jail for holding which is no place for a nice,caucasion Jewish boy to be with hardend criminals. Here's the point..I was rocked to my core. The next morning I made a police report, met with detectives and scanned mug shot books. I found him right away. The detectives told me just to head home or to work and they would be in touch...They never got in touch with me. I hired a local lawyer with connections and lo and behold, the guy that robbed me at knifepoint was a 2nd cousin of one of the detectives..There was nothing they could or would do.My lawyer said that if I kept it up and forced the issue for an arrest, I could never live there safely. I stayed at the job for another couple of months. During this time the Governor of the Islands was in for a visit with his family and handlers. His photographer was robbed by it seems the same person and ID'd him just like I did...Then the police contacted me and asked me to come in to help the investigation. I refused and told them to go to hell..I finally decided to head back to the states..This type of crime with or without the police angle I learned, is rampant in St Thomas as well as many other islands.Or as we lovingly referred to it as "Harlem with palm trees" no racial significance, just how crime is there.While I was there I heard even some of our guest's tales of walking just 2-3 blocks off the beaten paths and being accosted and nothing was ever done about it.I'd suggest anyone going to this area, fly into St Thomas because you have to, but leave quickly for St John or the BVI's, just use common sense and have a great trip!
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Jul 16th, 2013, 06:40 PM
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Bob: I am sorry but your story does not make sense on many levels. The Mark has been gone for a great number of years- over 20. There is no movie theater in the hills above Red Hook. I have to think you had a bad experience and it caused problems with your memory.
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Jul 16th, 2013, 10:13 PM
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You are correct "eastenderusvi". I forgot to mention I lived in St Thomas in 90'-91'. But the rest of the story is how I remember it..Maybe the movie theater and public housing section is not in the hills above Red Hook...but they are/were close by..I went to the theater to see a few films there.While there I lived in a condo at Cowpet Bay, and another condo at Mahogony Run..Both were virtualy crime free.While at the Mark St Thomas we got good press right away and were very busy. I had a lot of local business people up to the house for dinner and drinks,hired local musicians to entertain and all was well.Many people that knew from my time as chef at Gallows Point (Ellingtons)came to dine with us.The only reason I left besides having a knife put to my throat was I did not get on well with the owner/operator who was from the USA but lived at his uncle's hotel/casino in San Juan. One of the most wonderful things about island life for me was the barter system. We would have a lot of the day boat charter companies up for drinks and we would go out for a day sail gratis when space was available..I was not trying to demean all St Thomians, just the lowlife criminals that run rampant.I knew quite a few other chefs/owners that actually hired local "thugs" for protection, just like the mob in US cities..But all in all it was a special time in my life that I wouldn't change for anything. All the best to you "eastenderusvi...
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Jul 17th, 2013, 09:48 AM
  #15
 
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It's amazing the amount of crime that happens on STT versus STJ. I've lived on STJ almost a year now and have never witnessed any type of violence. I am a 32y/o female and walk home from work by myself almost every night. It's a different world on the other side of the channel. I only go to STT for Kmart and the airport.
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Jul 17th, 2013, 11:55 AM
  #16
 
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I'm not sure how dredging up a negative experience from 20 years ago helps anyone. I'm not saying you didn't have one, I'm saying it isn't relevant. Many people who move to St Thomas are gone in 6 months to a year and frequently keep telling everyone how bad it was. It is a very different culture. And skibum, it is difficult to compare an island with a population of less than 5000 to one with 60,000+. I promise that PhillyBob1 could tell you stories about how idyllic St John was 20 years ago.;-)
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Jul 18th, 2013, 07:51 AM
  #17
 
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Just saying...I'm glad I landed here, not there.
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Jul 29th, 2013, 12:12 PM
  #18
 
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We were planning on staying at Miller Manor in February for a night until we ferry over to Tortola the next day. This is in Charlotte Amalie..is this safer?? Also we may need a night stay on the end of our trip...any suggestions for a reasonable priced and safe place to stay???
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Jul 29th, 2013, 03:12 PM
  #19
 
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I'd say just about about any hotel on St Thomas is safe to stay for the one night before headed to Tortola. You might want to check out hotels in the same area as where your boat to Tortola is leaving the next day. Just stay with the crowds when going in the town or going to unknown places up in them there hills!
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Jul 29th, 2013, 05:45 PM
  #20
 
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If you want to stay in town, I would look at http://www.crystalpalaceusvi.com/. If you want to be closer to the airport http://www.islandbeachcomber.net/history.html.
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