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crime is out of control on STX

 

newarrival
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October 9, 2008 11:04 am  

I know I have only been here for six months but this is SO UNACCEPTABLE. My home was broken into two weeks ago and tons of our stuff was stolen. The police seem to know the names of the guys who did it, but those losers are roaming free, perhaps involved in the continuing rash of burglaries that I have been hearing about. In fact the car they used to rob my house had been stolen from a colleague's house the day before. Then Monday when another colleague's neighborhood was robbed (Buttsburg?) I couldn't help but wonder if it was the same guys. I mean, no one is stopping them! They just came to our houses and took our stuff and now they have it! They still have my computer, so let me know if "newarrival" makes any suspicious posts 🙂

I have heard in the past week of lots of armed robberies of restaurants. I cannot believe that people are allowed to do this on a regular basis! I heard in the past week the Galleon was invaded and the safe was stolen, and the guard at Green Cay marina was beat up. Cheeseburgers (family-friendly restaurant) was robbed at gunpoint. Someone said something about the Buccaneer guard getting attacked. This is all in the past week, as far as I know. People say you should live in a gated community, but look at how secure the gates are. These criminals are getting bolder and bolder because there are no consequences for them! And I always felt safe because we go home early, and we are barely ever out after dark, but these crimes are happening in broad daylight. Our house was robbed at noon on a Saturday. Restaurants and banks are held up in the middle of the day.

Now I know it is supposed to be taboo to mention crime on this board. But if I had known how unsafe me and my family would feel here, we would never have moved. I teach fifth grade, and of the 20 kids in my class, two have written stories about situations where they saw shooting erupt on a main road (two different times). My husband was driving through Sunny Isle and he saw two men holding an automatic rifle in the front seat of another car, handing it from the driver to the passenger. Everyone has a story, and lots of them are worse than ours - car jacking, armed robbery in front of children...

What are the longterm residents' perspective on this? Do you guys just feel resigned to all-powerful criminals and incompetent policework? Do you think that it comes in waves, and this too shall pass? And if you think this is not a big deal, how much bigger would it have to be to alarm you? As a new resident, my opinion is that the situation is deteriorating fast, and my husband wants to evacuate, and I don't know how strong my argument to stay is.

Sorry in advance for pissing everyone off. I am angry about this too, and it amazes me how blase many people's attitudes about crime are. When I read about the three criminals/murderers who broke out of our prison a couple of weeks ago, I was horrified, but I don't think anyone else ever mentioned it to me. When there was that gangland style murder at the hospital last spring, I thought it was one of the worst things I had ever heard. Maybe I didn't have enough friends at the time, but it was barely discussed also. Are people afraid to discuss these things, or do they not care?

Anyway, hopefully I will be able to check this thread soon. It sucks having all your stuff stolen.
Stay safe.


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Betty
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October 9, 2008 11:42 am  

It is taboo with many of the posters on this board, but I always said crime is out of control here and you have to be able to protect yourself. Some of the board members have never personally experienced crime so they feel there is none. Its kinda a wild west down here for transplants. Locals that have lived here for generations have their own ways of taking care of stuff. You can not rely on the police for anything. They are corrupt, incompetent, burnout or working with the previously mentioned. I'm sorry you got robbed but if you had researched enough threads on this board or search the word crime, you will definitely find people who talk about how bad crime is here. I don't know how many time I posted the article from the Daily News that puts are crime as worse then most places in America.

You've obviously need to start readying the paper as well, its not the best source but its the best most will have. Prisoner breakouts have been a problem for about a decade now. There was no gangland murder at the hosiptal, it was a completely Professional murder and they were caught. But the feds were on that case not the local police.

And people care but its just a fact of living here. Adopt some big dogs from the shelter and love them like nobody's business and they will be the best security you've ever had. Most criminals (here at least) don't want to mess with them. I'm not trying to pick on the person that was just robbed but if you've asked these questions on a pmv, just researched this board better you've would have found out the truth or researched the 2 papers online.


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A Davis
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October 9, 2008 11:56 am  

Dear newarrival:

I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you. As a longtime resident, I have experienced burglary, car theft and vandalism (parts missing, even the battery once!) - as well as been the victim of domestic violence (trust me, that relationship was ending at the time, just when that type is likely to make a move).

It's not only demoralizing but takes away your peace of mind when you are a crime victim. And the victimization is doubled when response is not up to par. Granted, even if the police know the names of suspects, they cannot make charges stick without proper evidence - may I assume they gathered as much as possible? Or not, I know that this is reported often.

There is an article just posted in the VI Source, Violent Crime Rate High, But Police Making More Arrests by Bill Kossler
http://www.onepaper.com/stthomasvi/?v=d&i=&s=News:Local&p=1222834179

It's too little, too late for you, but I have noticed that witnesses and others have become more aggressive in providing information that leads to arrests... so even if the investigation is called into question, it is possible for witnesses (in this case visitors!) to make a difference in the outcome. See Aguilar Shooting Defendant Guilty of First-Degree Murder by Ananta Pancham
http://www.onepaper.com/stthomasvi/?v=d&i=&s=News:Local&p=1222833642

As the late Great John L. and many a Virgin Islander says, "Stay Up!"


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Neil
 Neil
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October 9, 2008 12:24 pm  

Wow newarrival, I'm really sorry this has happened to you. And when it happens to you, I know from personal experience that it can be so unsettling, such a feeling of violation, -and you feel like your bubble/dream has burst.

I don't want to diminsh the local issue of crime at all, but from personal experience it should also be said that WHEREVER crime happens to you -it leaves you feeling wary in that place. You never look at that particular place in the same way again. This is true of many of the places I've lived. --A negative experience in that place, crime or otherwise, colors my memory of it. I hope you can sort through the good from bad and get past it. I know from personal experience that's not easy, but it helps. Time helps a lot too.

Now.... Help me/us learn from your situation... Tell us about your neighborhood, about the security measures you had at your home. How'd they get in? Do you have neighbors? Would a neighborhood watch have helped? Why do you think they picked your house/apt?

Note about the cops... My daughter's car was broken into twice back up in Ohio right in front of our nice suburban home. The cops said they had a good idea of who was doing these crimes. Catching them in the act or with the goods, however, wasn't easy they said. Did the cops dust for finger prints at your place?


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islandtyme
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October 9, 2008 12:48 pm  

New arrival,
Yes crime is an issue here. I too have been robbed.............house broken into & car radio stolen. Although it was few yrs ago, it still stinks!
Sorry that you feel violated and think the police aren't doing enough. They need solid evidence to convict, and sadly too many people are either related or know each other thus getting off. I would like to note that I have noticed POSITIVE changes!!! We left island to go state side not long after the last Gov. election. After returning almost a year later, theres a new police chief& a stronger presence of officers, especially out east. Previously you NEVER saw them here, and if you had an emergency it took hours for them to show up. They are also patrolling more dwn twn C'sted ............and as a former retail manager there, trust me its a beautiful thing! Officers are even out at night now, which before was UNHEARD of. And certain neighborhoods are more prone to crime, which is another reason we tell new comers to find something temporary before signing a lease. Need to check out your surroundings!!! I wish we all could say that this place was a true paradise, but it has its problems. Hope this doesn't taint you, but perhaps its too late. Please please, do NOT adopt a couple dogs if you do NOT plan to stay. They (the dogs) aren't rent-a-mut to be turned bush when leaving island. They deserve to be loved and well cared for, as they will protect you, so how can you just turn your back on that kind of love & loyalty. Not to mention the shelter is full of cast aways!
Good Luck to you with what ever decision you decide.


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EngRMP
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October 9, 2008 1:46 pm  

New arrival,

That is just a horrible story... "noon on a saturday"!!!?????!!!!

I'd like to second Neil's approach. I think if we get some ideas on how this is happening, there might be some ways to help avoid it in the future, and thus get a better sense of security.

Just based on what I'm hearing on this thread:
- crime happens in broad daylight
- the criminals don't seem very interested in being discreet
- the authorities need hard evidence

It makes me think of new, inexpensive motion detecting video recording systems:
- they are triggered by motion
- they're small and run on batteries (so they could be hidden)
- for example: http://www.lightinthebox.com/2-0-inch-Micro-Audio-Video-DVR-and-Spy-Camera-Kit--SZQ284-_p26902.html

Anyone tried something like this? If not, I might get one and just experiment with it and report back.


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islandtyme
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October 9, 2008 2:00 pm  

EngRMP.............. You quack me up!!! I bet your toy box overflows!!!
Yeah, my engineer hub is thinking the same thing & has been looking into surveillance too, including the one you're talking about.
Hope you're not like his clone...........could there really be 2 of you!!!! 😮


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EngRMP
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October 9, 2008 2:57 pm  

Sadly (for you normal people), Islandtyme, there are many more of us geeks out there.

Some of these things, I'm sure, are just crap. And, if the criminals are black, then there is the problem of capturing a black face in a bright scene with a camera. But, putting on my engineering cap (oh, sorry, it's always on... extra tight... and perfectly squared... unless the little propeller spins better at an angle to the breeze):
- by knowing the architecture of your home, and using natural scale guides around the room, you could accurately attain the height of the people (this would eliminate possible suspects more than ID suspects).
- if the camera were placed properly, the lighting could be optimized to light white or black faces properly for ID
- the camera would also help to identify things that were stolen (good for insurance and the authorities)
- since, presumably cars are used to haul things away, then these cameras should also point outside at driveways and garage areas.

I think that dogs are probably a better solution for sense of security. But if allergies or other reasons preclude the use of dogs then this might be worth looking into. But, I (like Neil) would still like to hear more about the circumstances.


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Trade
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October 9, 2008 5:34 pm  

Now I know it is supposed to be taboo to mention crime on this board.

I have no idea where you got that idea. I can't speak for STX, only STT but contrary to one of Betty's remarks, "It is taboo with many of the posters on this board" I can't imagine who she's talking about.

Sorry this has happened to you but stronger security measures ARE necessary & it does seem to happen in waves. We had some crooks here some years back & there was a huge rash of burglaries, robberies, etc. until there was a big bust when one of the crooks shot somebody at a nightclub that was above Wendy's. After that the crime went way down so your suspicion this is the same bunch might just be right on target. I hope they nail them or they go down for another crime - anything to stop it.

I've not been a victim of crime here but have CERTAINLY been a serious victim of crime elsewhere (is beating/rape & multiple robberies enough qualifications for you, Betty?)


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Linda J
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October 9, 2008 5:39 pm  

Crime is like surgery, minor if it happens to your neighbor and major if it's happening to you. We've been here for 5 years and have never really been touched by crime personally. I don't think it's helpful to minimize the crime situation here, but neither is it helpful to make it seem worse than it is.

This is why you really have to do research to decide if island life is for you.


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Sabrina
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October 9, 2008 5:50 pm  

I'm sorry to hear what happened to you newarrival. I too was a victim of crime on an island where the Police do nothing, and I never felt safe there again, so eventually left. Everyone has given some very good advice, but I really want to emphasize what islandtyme said - if you are not 100% sure you are going to stay, please do NOT get any dogs. It is heartbreaking the amount of dogs that are abandoned when people leave the island. I know it is very hard to rent a place in America if you have large dogs (actually, anything except tiny dogs!) Plus, and I hope it isn't the case in the VI, in many of the islands the criminals will not hesitate to kill your dogs.


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A Davis
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October 9, 2008 6:04 pm  

I don't think that mentioning crime on this board is taboo so much as how it is done. Apparently, newarrival, you have the "magic touch" when it comes to sharing your experience and seeking advice!

I have not seen one negative reply to your post. At least not yet! :$)


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Bombi
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October 9, 2008 7:16 pm  

I think it's real important to introduce yourself to your neighbors and watch out for each other. When you hear or see anything suspisious call them or call 911. Good locks help so does a gate or chain across your driveway. If evry one was looking out for one another there would be less of this type of crime.


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newarrival
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October 9, 2008 9:33 pm  

Thanks so much to everyone for writing. I have heard the dog advice so many times since we got here, but we didn't want to get one unless we are here longterm. So we are definitely not ready for that. And the motion detectors are a very good idea to help catch thieves, but my concern is being at my home next time they come. That the police response time is improving is good to here, but from my experience and those of my close friends, a response time under an hour is pretty impressive. So it doesn't make me feel that much more secure in the moment. I hope that Trade is right and that these bad guys will be isolated from the rest of the community soon.

Thank you everyone for your perspective and your sympathy. I wasn't writing to get sympathy, but it actually helped a lot 🙂 So thanks. And it is always good to hear reminders that this happens everywhere - even though I know that already. I need to go read the articles that Anita posted now, because I do want to be as informed as possible. And for other people's information, the police who came to the "crime scene" aka my house (on my son's birthday) were followed several hours later by a forensic team. So they did collect a little evidence. When my colleague's car was recovered it was full of school books (with a name on them), black gloves and other evidence that the police weren't initially very enthusiastic about collecting. But from what I hear, they finally decided to accept the evidence into the investigation. I mean, GLOVES, in the Virgin Islands??? Kind of fishy 🙂

I know the police are overworked, but if they could aggressively pursue some of these guys, a lot of the future crimes would be prevented, lessening their work load in the long run. Maybe...


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Betty
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October 10, 2008 12:07 am  

I've not been a victim of crime here but have CERTAINLY been a serious victim of crime elsewhere (is beating/rape & multiple robberies enough qualifications for you, Betty?)

Congratulations Trade you win the biggest victim contest? Is that the attention you needed? You take a discussion about crime and turn into being all about you. It may be time to go back to therapy, letting that all hang out is not a attractive quality, if you said it to me in person I would definitely tell you to please get help. Don't keep picking at the scab, from all the stuff you said before it happened a long time ago (considering you've lived here more then 20 years). So you're either in great pain still or use it to try to win arguments. Neither option is pretty. There are many other posters besides you who always say crimes not bad you just have to be careful and its nonsense. You've just been lucky nothing bad has happed to you on this island. Crime is really becoming out of control. Not as bad as WAPA though.

I don't think I'm making crime seem worse then it is I've posted the facts again and again and based on our population, crime is through the roof. Higher then most major cities. Granted alot of it drug related. The worst a transplant is most like to be a victim of is burglary, robbery or rape. But its not unlikely.


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Trade
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October 10, 2008 2:19 am  

It's 26 years. I've never been a "victim," Betty but nice try. I think you were one who used to accuse me & others of being "the smiley brigade" but I only stated that to show that I DO know what it's like to be at the bad end of crime. Naturally, you proved my point. I've successfully lived here without fear & without a Fed sleeping next to me so obviously it's possible to put bad things behind you. Amnesia isn't healthy as any rational person knows. All any of us can post about are our own experiences as they relate to others. That was mine.

I'm so glad the jerks who broke into Newarrival's home did so when they weren't there & I DO hope the creeps are caught. I also surely hope that the Newarrival family can feel comfortable again on a day to day business but that's not easy when your home has been invaded. Sometimes, people may just want to leave to get away from it. Other times, people I've known have gotten mad & decided not to let the jerks run them off. IMO, neither one is right or wrong. Each must make his own decision & that's not something anyone else can advise.


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Cory
 Cory
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October 10, 2008 1:56 pm  

Yes, this is getting out of control.

I have been here for 2 months, and already heard of dozens of situations. My friends in Mahogany Welcome were robbed at gunpoint and forced into thier home. The robbers had automatic weapons and were all teenagers. End result- 4 guys behind bars, one of them(the youngest one) got stabbed several times, now friends are about to leave island. Its really sad. I fear its only going to get worse before it gets better. The economy is awful, WAPA bills forcing people to choose between expensive food, rent/mortgage, medicine or their power bill. People get desperate, and do stupid things.

I really dont want to buy a gun, but do i have to? Ive resisted, so now i have tasers, more security, more lights, and soon a dog or 2.

Its really depressing to have to resort to these measures because one feels unsafe.

Always have your friends around!! Be vigilant!!


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antiqueone
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October 10, 2008 3:03 pm  

Cory~ a thought about guns. The wild west towns were infested with villains until the shopkeepers and other good citizens started carrying guns. (True or not, modern statistics show that where the citizens are armed, violent crime rates go down.) If you feel you need a gun for protection, think first long and hard about whether and in what circumstances you could actually shoot and kill someone. Look into and learn the laws regarding self defense. Go to the Shooting Gallery and learn how to be safe with weapons and practice, practice, practice. I agree with you that things are likely to get really bad here if the economy doesn't settle down, and I don't think it is likely to anytime soon. They won't let you carry a gun here unless it is part of your job or you own a business. The rest of us are apparently not valuable enough to protect our lives or our loved ones except when we stay in our homes. A license to keep a gun in your home takes lots of paperwork and about a month to get.....the women in charge of that bureau don't even have computers yet! Good Luck


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limetime2
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October 12, 2008 2:00 pm  

I haven't thought about this a lot, or explored the pro's and cons... (so go ahead and beat me up... its just an idea).... but the first thoughts I had after reading Cory and Antiqueone's posts were... wouldn't it be great if the headlines of the newspapers over the next few weeks had titles like:

Virgin Island Homeowners band together to protect their homes and neighborhoods. With an article following about how homeowner associations across the islands have recommended to their members to take preventive steps to protect their properties and themselves from vandalism by recommending security systems, installing motion sensors and video cameras, acquiring guard dogs and taking gun classes at the local shooting gallery. Record numbers of VI homeowners have applied for gun permits to protect their homes and video surveillance systems have become common in many residential neighborhoods- with recent arrests as a result. Animal shelter has seen a big increase in the adoption of large breed dogs... yada yada....

and/or

Retailers take action agains crime in the US Virgin Islands. With an article that follows about how retailers and restaurants have banded together to discuss and implement security measures and increase crime fighting capabilities by creating a reporting network , working pro-actively with the local police force to define nightime patrol areas, assure rapid response times, establish radio communications options, and increase public safety on our downtown streets. Weekend and evening police patrols of the restaurant district (ok I know we don't have one but get the point)...have been increased and security systems have been installed in many local businesses.. and record numbers of business owners have applied for gun carry permits..... yada yada.

Articles like these (and more important ACTION like this) would certainly make criminals think twice about their chances of getting away with crime.

Point being... that in times like these, we the honest people need to take steps to protect ourselves against those who would commit crimes against us. First, we should band together as neighbors and discuss and implement security measures we can take together in our neighborhoods, install video cameras on our properties if possible, meet with the police in mass to show our concern and interest, and take steps to protect our homes and make them less of a target. Businesses should be doing the same. Once the word gets out that the people are not going to tolerate this increase in activity and once a few butts get busted and put in jail... things will hopefully get better. (Oh.. and remember to support those people who do take action and risk their lives to protect us when one of these criminals does try to cause us harm... instead of second guessing and criminalizing them for hurting one of our "troubled young people".... but thats another rant).

Hoping you all remain safe and secure. (I'm going to go call the president of my home owners association and ask for a special meeting to be called to discuss crime prevention in our neighborhood and steps we can take to improve it. I'm also going to go hug my three dogs and thank them for the fantastic protection and love they give me everyday. Tomorrow I'm gonna call the gun club and find out about shooting classes... I may just decide to get a gun! ( I hear marine flare guns are big and scary, relatively inexpensive to buy, and don't require a permit)... maybe I'll get one of those right away!)


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GoodToGo
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October 12, 2008 2:27 pm  

You think the criminals are reading the newspaper 😮

I could be wrong - they might read it to see how many of their pals are mentioned in reference to crimes and get off without conviction due to "lack of evidence"...


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newarrival
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October 12, 2008 7:15 pm  

I totally agree with you, Limetime2. I think the scariest part of the home invasion is just feeling so vulnerable and alone. If I knew that there would be a rapid response if something like this were to happen again, it would be more reassuring. I don't care if the response comes from the police or a unified militia of neighbors, but there has to be some way you can call in reinforcements if something bad happens. I heard a story from a friend of someone banging on her windows (years ago) while she was home alone at night, and how horrible and scared she felt while she waited and waited for the cops to come.

I don't know if this is too much of a stretch, but it kind of reminds me of the ceasefire program I wrote about a couple of months ago ( http://www.ceasefirechicago.org/). The similarity is the element where the community rejects the violence or other violations that are happening to them. Once something becomes socially unacceptable, there is another level of pressure on the criminals. People compare living in the VI to the wild west, and I can see why. Some people have said it is appealing to them, fine. But for those of us who are uncomfortable with the way things work (or don't work) it makes sense for us to take proactive measures. I like the idea of calling a homeowners' meeting now, instead of locking the barn door after losing the horse, as I feel I am doing now.

Anyway, if you have any bright ideas and want another concerned citizen to work on them with you, let me know! I don't want my husband to just suffer through our time here - it is supposed to be fun! Good luck with your own safety measures.


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Yearasta
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October 12, 2008 7:32 pm  

What area of the island do you live?


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