The United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Overseas Security Advisory Council places the Cayman Islands amongst the most secure in the Caribbean.
Although the threat is generally considered low, travellers are advised to take normal precautions.
“Petty theft, pick-pocketing and purse snatchings occur. A few cases involving sexual assault have been reported to the Embassy. Police in the Cayman Islands rigorously enforce laws against illegal drugs,” reads the official travel advisory.
By contrast, nearby neighbour Jamaica is considered to have a ‘serious problem’ with crime, including violent crime, particularly in Kingston and Montego Bay.
“While the vast majority of crimes occur in impoverished areas, random acts of violence, such as gunfire, may occur anywhere. The primary criminal concern for tourists is becoming a victim of theft.”
Armed robberies can turn violent, there have been reported sexual assault allegations and financial scams.
Crime is exacerbated by the fact that police are understaffed and ineffective. Additionally, there have been frequent allegations of police corruption,” warns the United States government agency.
Cayman’s other near neighbour, Cuba, has less widely-known crime statistics but theft remains a problem, as does the concept of ‘jineteros’ (literally ‘jockeys’) – street hustlers ostensibly offering tour guide services but who may look to scam tourists in iffy currency deals or worse. Jineteros, as well as Jineteras – female hustlers – offer what can be called escort services, including sex, in exchange for cash or goods. Prostitution is illegal in Cuba and jineteros/as may be fined severely if caught with a tourist in this manner (the tourist will not be punished).
Haiti is considered to be very dangerous by the Overseas Security Advisory Council, which warns that there are no ‘safe’ areas and a persistent danger of violent crime is present.”
Haiti is among the four most important countries for drug transit to the United States. Law and order in Haiti has steadily deteriorated as a result. Kidnapping, death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, armed robberies, home break-ins and car-jacking are common in Haiti. Generally, these crimes are committed by Haitians against other Haitians, although several foreigners and US citizens have been victimized.”
Kidnapping incidents have been reduced but visitors are warned off many neighbourhoods and even advised not to photograph in certain areas without permission of the subjects.
The other half of Hispanola – the Dominican Republic – is considered also to have crime issues with street crime and petty theft plus the possibility of kidnappings particularly flagged up.
The Bahamas has a high crime rate, with New Providence particularly experiencing a ‘spike’ in crime in the last few years. Pickpocketing, theft and armed robbery involving tourists have been noted. There had also been reports of assaults and se
xual assaults, boat thefts and home break-ins.
Trinidad and Tobago are both considered to have a high incidence of violent crime, affecting locals, expats and tourists. Several areas of Port of Spain are considered to be dangerous either after dark or even during the day with tourists vulnerable to pickpockets and worse.
“Violent crimes, including assault, kidnapping for ransom, sexual assault and murder, have involved expatriate residents and tourists.. the perpetrators of many of these crimes have not been arrested. Burglaries of private residences are common. Robbery is a risk, particularly in urban areas and especially near ATMs and shopping malls. You should avoid wearing expensive jewellery, riding in flashy cars or displaying large amounts of money in public. “In Tobago, violent crime is high, including attacks on expatriate residents and tourists in their residences, many of which involve the use of machetes. There have been reports of home invasions in the Mt. Irvine/Buccoo Bay, and Bacolet areas, and robberies occurring at the waterfalls and on isolated beaches in Tobago where visitors are not in a group.
” Antigua and Barbuda has an incidence of violent crime, including rape and murder. Isolated beaches are considered to be potentially dangerous and tourists have been targeted. St. Lucia is reported by the Overseas Security Advisory Council as having incidences of armed robbery and violent crime connected to narcotics trafficking.
Crime in Barbados involves street crime but incidents of violent crime have occurred, including rape. Tourists have been targeted on some isolated beaches. St. Kitts and Nevis has experienced increased crime since the economic downturn with violent incidents added to street crime and burglary.
In other small islands of the Eastern Caribbean, crimes are considered opportunistic, such as thefts from tourists in Grenada, Dominica, Martinique and Guadeloupe. Turks & Caicos has a low crime rate but some petty thefts and burglaries are reported on Providenciales most often of the islands. British Virgin Islands experiences ‘theft, armed robbery and other violent crimes.’ St. Vincent and the Grenadines mostly experiences opportunistic theft from unattended valuables and occasionally property from anchored yachts.
The ABC islands of the Southern Caribbean – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – are considered relatively safe, although thefts are not unheard of and some accommodations now have security windows. Curacao has had occasional armed robberies and theft of cars and the boating community have occurred.