Crime in St. Croix ...

Crime in St. Croix How to evaluate objectively  

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Like many contemplating a relocation to a new (and exotic) place we are concerned about personal safety and living without fear.
I was raised in a rural home where the door was never locked, but times, even here in suburban NY have sadly changed for the worse. Our local police blotters are filled each week with an array of criminal activity. I have made a thorough scan of the internet to find information regarding St. Croix and the USVI in general. The resulting information is confusing, contradictory, reassuring, frightening, and basically provides no way to objectively assess the frequency of theft and violent crime that exists in STX. At face value, one might be afraid to travel to anywhere but gated condos and secure resorts. There are many horror stories told on the internet forums ranging from murders, armed restaurant holdups (Cane Bay), petty theft as well as testimony to police ineptness and/or disinterest as well as charges of out right corruption. Is it to be believed or is it a gross exaggeration? I fully realize that on a small island every small thing becomes magnified. However with such a small island population a brazen stickup of a restaurant is significant. I have read that where and HOW one lives will to some extent determine whether they are at risk--probably true anywhere. That makes sense however. . .
I don't want to live in a high security compound (gated community). I'd rather have a little house with a small yard to grow tomatoes and sit in the shade sipping Crusan. I don't have a collection of valuables and lead a relatively humble life. Still I am not keen on losing what few things I have. The message board is divided into two camps--the Encoragers and the Discouragers. One group says Hey man, it's laid back and slower pace here. You can't always get everything you want, but you'll get by. It's beautiful here. Life is good. Come check it out and if it;s right for you then stick around. The other tells of a dying island with a failing economy, failing tourism, boarded up businesses, terrible roads, broken infrastructure and a criminal element that goes unchecked--the bad guys lurking at secluded beaches. The truth is of course somewhere in between. I suspect that St; Croix, like many places, goes through cycles and perhaps at the present time there are more problems affot than solutions. The island looks like it holds many possibilities for Diane and Myself and we will need e to make some compromises, where ever we choose to relocate.
I welcome your thoughts on the subject.

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Posts: 1495
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Oh and this is fascinating, Gangster Girls at Jump Up:

From: Homicide Data 2011

(17) STX

(25) Territory

Tamirah Bruno, 16, was stabbed to death July 8 during a fight that broke out during Jump Up in Christiansted. Accordng to police a series of fights involving high school-aged girls broke out at the end of Jump Up around 10:45 p.m. The names of the two alleged perpetrators charged with murder have not been released by police because they are minors. They are in custody at St. Croix's Youth Rehabilitation Center. Several other girls were treated for wounds received during the melee.

From: 16-year-old sisters face murder charges in girl's stabbing after Jump Up in July

ST. CROIX - Two 16-year-old sisters will be tried as adults on murder and assault charges after a fatal public stabbing that left one girl dead and four others bleeding near the Christiansted Boardwalk after a Jump Up in early July.

The sisters, Natifa Williams and Adelina Adams, appeared Monday before V.I. Superior Court Judge Julio Brady to be advised of their rights. Each faced a similar set of charges - first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first- and third-degree assault, possession of a violent weapon during a violent crime and first-degree reckless endangerment - except that Williams faces an additional count of third-degree assault for accidentally stabbing Adams during the crime, according to court records.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Steele of the Family Division signed the motion on Oct. 11 to have the sisters transferred over to be tried as adults.

The sisters initially were arrested in the immediate aftermath of the public and violent episode that played out just after a Jump Up ended on July 8. The streets still were crowded with vendors and pedestrians enjoying the night's festivities, and music from bars still filled the streets. A fight between two sets of sisters and cousins began outside the Brew Pub on the boardwalk and trailed down to one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in that area, where Queen Cross Street runs into the boardwalk. Not far from Rum Runners restaurant, violence erupted, leaving 16-year-old Tamirah Bruno dead and her sisters and cousins injured, lying on the ground amid tattered bits of blood-stained clothing.


One witness described an argument between Bruno and Adams at the Brew Pub, where both groups of girls were hanging out after the Jump Up officially ended. The witness told police that Bruno approached Adams and asked her why she kept calling her phone. Adams responded by saying, "I should slap all of you," according to Fieulleteau.

Bruno and Adams began arguing, and one of Bruno's sisters pulled Bruno away and started walking her away down the boardwalk, Fieulleteau said. One witness said they overheard Williams say, "I have my thing in my bag if they want to play."

As Bruno and the others walked away, Adams and Williams followed as Bruno turned the corner onto Queen Cross Street, the witnesses told police. There they saw Adams and Williams emerge from a walkway between the boardwalk and the street, according to Fieulleteau. Adams and Williams approached the group of girls, and Adams kept her hand behind her back, according to witness statements. A friend of the group ran to get police officers, but the argument had already escalated into a brawl by the time she returned, Fieulleteau said.

It is not uncommon for minors under the age of 18 to be in bars down there, with no repercussions for the bars. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; drinking and drugs are a MAJOR problem down there. The saying goes, "If you can put your money on the bar, you are old enough to drink!"

Amazingly they were actually sentenced to a decent amount of adult time:

From: Teen girls get 16 years for Jump Up slaying

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So after reading all these reports of crime in St Thomas how do I objectively evaluate Crime in St Croix ?

Three from STT and two from STX, it is a fair look at the islands.

Hey Rotor, wanna chime in with your near-death experience on STX with three armed intruders that held you and your wife for hours? Oh wait, nm, i got it:

From: Early morning home invasion turns deadly as 2 suspects killed, officer and police K-9 shot Edwin Carmona, 30, and Franklyn Johnson Jr., 20, killed; boy in custody

ST. CROIX - Violence erupted in the usually quiet neighborhood of Beeston Hill and Havensight early Friday morning that left a V.I. Police officer and a K-9 officer wounded, two burglary suspects dead and a third suspect wounded.

Six police officers - and a K-9 officer - have been shot in the territory in the last six months.


The house is nestled in the hillside of an affluent neighborhood and is surrounded by lush greenery and wooded areas on three sides. A wrought-iron gate gives the appearance of security, but the gunmen were able to breach the gate minutes before tragedy struck.

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If any of you are really interested, you can read the articles (plural) that The Daily News won a Pulitzer for:

The 1995 Pulitzer Prize Winners - Public Service

For a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper through the use of its journalistic resources, which may include editorials, cartoons, and photographs, as well as reporting, a gold medal.

Awarded to The Virgin Islands Daily News, St. Thomas, for its disclosure of the links between the region's rampant crime rate and corruption in the local criminal justice system. The reporting, largely the work of Melvin Claxton, initiated political reforms.

Hmm what article to pick to quote? So many...

Oh! Here we go, an officer assassinated by other officers who were never caught:

An Officer Assassinated - Slaying Blemishes V.I. Law Enforcement

It was nearing midnight on Saturday, March 26, and traffic cop Steven Hodge was just getting home from work after an uneventful shift. He had plans to go fishing in his boat in the morning. But something else was uppermost in his mind.

Just two days earlier, he'd made an appointment with a top prosecutor in the Attorney General's Office to talk about what was troubling him. He'd emphasized to the prosecutor that he needed to talk to a person with highest authority --"the engine, not the engineers," the prosecutor recalls Hodge saying.

Their meeting was to be on Tuesday.

Two weeks before setting up the meeting, Hodge confided to a fellow officer that he had witnessed "something" near Water Island that left him so shook up he nearly ran his boat aground. The officer, who has been interviewed by the FBI, says Hodge promised to give her more details later.

He never got the chance.

That Saturday night in late March, Hodge quietly let himself into the Lindbergh Bay home he shared with his parents, careful as always to avoid disturbing anyone. In his room, he found his mother listening to the radio; she'd come in there because his father was asleep and she didn't want the noise to wake him.

They chatted awhile, about nothing in particular, then she went to her room. As Hodge began to undress, he turned the television to his favorite channel -- Court TV.

Hodge, 26, followed his nightly routine. He put his uniform and socks in a nearby hamper, his shoes at the foot of his bed and his service revolver on the dresser. It was the last time he would touch his gun.

He pulled on a pair of shorts that he used as pajamas and settled into his bed. Just then he heard someone in the front yard call his name.

Not his real name, but "Scooby," a nickname friends on the force gave him because his big, friendly grin reminded them of the cartoon character Scooby Doo.

Hodge, shoeless and dressed only in his shorts, opened the front door and stepped outside. Eight long strides took him through the gate and into the street.

In the darkness assassins waited. The 6-foot-5 cop walked straight into a hail of gunfire.

He was hit 21 times. One bullet, from a shotgun fired at close range, left a two-inch hole below his armpit. He died instantly.

His assailants -- investigators believe there were three or four --used at least three types of weapons. Police found shell casings for a .380 automatic, a 9 mm pistol and a shotgun.

At first, investigators assumed the murder was an act of revenge by criminals with a grudge against him. Soon, though, the finger of guilt pointed toward the Police Department itself.

"My gut feeling is that cops were involved," says Police Commissioner Anthon Christian.

That possibility led Gov. Alexander A. Farrelly to ask the FBI to take over the investigation.

FBI agents have been on the case since April. As always, their policy is to say nothing publicly about what they are doing. Except for one officer assigned as a liaison between the Police Department and the FBI, no local officers are privy to information about the investigation.

Privately, investigators confirm that the FBI has uncovered a possible motive: Hodge was killed to keep him from talking about the April 23, 1993, theft of more than 20 pounds of cocaine from the crime lab, which was then under the Attorney General's Office.

The FBI, which was also investigating the cocaine disappearance, recently announced it did not have enough evidence to make an arrest in that case and thus was dropping that investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office then announced it would not prosecute.

But in dropping the case, the U.S. attorney did not follow usual procedures.

"When the U.S. Attorney's Office decides not to prosecute, they usually turn over their case file," says a V.I. assistant Attorney General. "This time they simply sent a two-paragraph letter saying they weren't going to prosecute."

The case file would contain the investigation findings, including leads and names of informants and suspects.

Now, the search for clues in the Hodge murder has hit a major snag. Investigators can't find Hodge's notes.

The people closest to Hodge, personally and professionally, say he was a meticulous note keeper. He jotted down everything -- dates, facts, appointments, observations, ideas -- yet those notes have vanished. Investigators say they have searched long and hard but have turned up nothing.

They believe it is likely that the missing notes hold the answer to why the six-year police veteran was assassinated -- and to who did it.

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You ok, NoOne?

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Ok how 'bout something more personal from the Pulitzer web site:

Heat On the Street - Virgin Islands a Gun-Traffickers' Paradise

The gun that killed Aviles was one of 49 weapons that police say Christopher Monbelly and Nigel Crosby smuggled into the territory between August and October last year. The two have just been convicted of illegally bringing the weapons to St. Croix from Miami.

They had the guns in their suitcases.

Police have recovered 11 of the weapons, 10 from the scenes of crimes.

The case highlights the ease with which anyone can bring illegal weapons into the territory, law enforcement officials say.

The open border between the Virgin Islands and the U.S. mainland makes transporting guns to the territory as hassle-free as carrying in a bottle of suntan lotion.

If gunrunners are actually arrested, mishandled prosecutions and lenient sentences effectively undermine the territory's gun laws.

And that helps keep the Virgin Islands armed and dangerous. Consider:

* At least 14,000 illegal guns are in the territory, many in the hands of people the police consider dangerous.

* Since 1991, police have recovered 620 weapons from crime scenes in the Virgin Islands. But in hundreds of cases each year the weapons are never recovered.

* Guns were used in 79 percent of the 33 murders this year.

* Guns were used in 28 of the 36 violent deaths, including suicides.

* Police say reports of gunfire are so numerous they don't even bother to count them and very few are checked out.

* Gun dealing is so loosely regulated that one dealer, fully licensed, sells guns out of the trunk of his car. Another had his license revoked just this year, although he has been in prison in Atlanta for drug possession.

* Violations by legal gun dealers are commonplace. Of the 53 Virgin Islands residents who had firearms dealer licenses at the beginning of the year, 47 were cited for long-standing violations of federal or local laws. Some dealers were in violation for more than five years, but nobody checked on them.

* Police officers get caught up in the brisk gun trade. Law enforcement officials say they are investigating two police officers suspected of selling guns while on duty in the police station.

* A V.I. Police Department recruit was among those arrested in a recent gun raid on St. Croix. He was charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm.

* The ready availability of guns turns simple disagreements into deadly encounters. In the last five years, 34 percent of all homicides in the territory resulted from arguments that got out of hand.

I have one close friend that I know brought 38 handguns from Texas in a suitcase. I personally have brought a gun with 1400 rounds of ammo in a suitcase to the USVI from Connecticut, and the Ruger Mini-14 rifle I brought is now in the hands of another friend of mine on STT, that he bought from the cop who confiscated it from me. Here is the story from my book:

I went to Springfield, Massachusetts, my birthplace, for a vacation and to visit my family and friends, one summer. I decided that I needed to buy some sort of assault rifle, as my pistols were fairly weak.

My friend Bob and I head down to Enfield, Connecticut, and stop in at a local gun shop. I decide to test the waters and see if I can buy something simple, like ammo for my pistols.

With my Charter Arms Undercover five shot in mind, I ask the clerk, "What do you think would be best to kill someone from two feet away with a snub-nose .38 special?" He doesn't miss a beat, reaches over and picks out Winchester aluminum jacket 110-grain hollow-point bullets.

If you don't know, these bullets shatter on impact. I say, "OK, I'll take them" and he says, "Lets see some ID." I hand him my V.I. Plastics fake ID, he checks his register to see if he can sell to a Virgin Islander, and then sells me a box of 50 along with 150 full metal jacket bullets.

Next day I come back, I look over the array of expensive ($700+) AR-15s, AK-47s, etc. and ask the clerk, "Do you have any rifles that are cheaper?" First he comes out with an old Japanese bolt-action rifle and I tell him, "I am looking for something that is semi-automatic."

He goes to the back room and comes back with a stainless steel Ruger Mini-14 (NATO 5.56mm/.223in) rifle. I ask, "How much?" and he says, "$330." With a grin on my face, I say, "Perfect, I'll take it!" to the great shock of my friend Bob. I pick out 1000 rounds of re-loaded ammo, 200 rounds of premium ammo, a 30 shot magazine, a gun cleaning kit, a new pistol butt and a holster for my .38

Then I make a mistake. I go next door to a liquor store and try to buy two quarts of Budweiser. They call the police on me because of my fake ID. They even bring out a German Shepard to watch me while the police are in route. I end up paying a $100 fine and they let me go, fortunately not knowing anything about the gun and 1400 rounds of ammo I have.

Beat that - I can buy a deadly weapon and enough ammo to kill a small army, but I will be damned if I try to buy alcohol!

I somehow managed to convince Bob to sell his blue Firebird Formula and come on a vacation with me to St. Thomas. I break up the Mini-14 and pack it in my very large suitcase, along with everything else I bought. We head to the airport, and I check the bag through to St. Thomas.

We arrive in St. Thomas, I look around to see if any one is watching the conveyor belt and people waiting for bags. Everything seems to be normal, so I pick the bag up and we walk strait out of the old WW2 airplane hanger that was the terminal.

Mission accomplished, I have my gun!

When I get home my father asks to speak to me. Turns out he found my .38 that was in my nightstand. He tells me, "You need to get rid of it." I ask, "Why?" and he says, "It’s a dangerous weapon and I don't want it in my house." This is from someone who owns two pistols and the High Standard Model 10 series B Police Shotgun - a 26" long semi-automatic bullpup 12-gauge.

I tell him, "Hold on." I go to my room to get my Mini-14, pop the large magazine in, walk out to the living room, cock it, display it to my father and I say; "Now, this is a dangerous weapon!" My Dad has a minor heart attack, grasping his chest and huffing away. He tells me, "Get rid of it!" so I take the Mini-14 to Chachi’s house, and the .38 to Richi's house.

Unfortunately I was caught with both of the guns. Fortunately, the cop who catches me "works" for my father and Dad paid him off with some cocaine. The cop even comments, "I've been looking for this .38, it used to be mine!"

I think I can claim I have taken enough explosives aboard a plane to blow it up…

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