I hate to ask this...
I know crime is a sensitive topic on this board but I have a question that I really haven't seen addressed so far as relates to crime on STX.
Can anybody tell me how much of the violent crime is random? I saw a post on the STX Crime group forum about a continental who was shot in the head last weekend. There was confusion about the details so I couldn't tell whether it was truly random or not (e.g., possibly related to drugs or something else.) What was most troubling was hearing that supposedly (not verified) the police classified it as a suicide so as to not scare off the tourist. This is what raised a red flag for me about possible high rates of random violence that could be under-reported.
Can anybody there give me a qualitative feel for whether the majority of the violent crime is random or not? In other words should I and my family consisting of my wife and 12-year old son be prepared for random acts of violence given we are not into drugs, don't drink and won't be in bars, and have no plans to be on the streets in town after dark? I guess my question is whether there is a much higher chance of violent crime coming to visit us (I'm not including vehicle vandalism or other property theft) than say in the Seattle area (where we live now which has a low crime rate for the U.S.) or even say in comparison to a place like Dallas (which has a high crime rate for the U.S.)
How about a quantitative feel? For those who have been there for awhile can you reply and state:
-As best you can recall the number of violent crimes you have trustworthy knowledge of that has happened against continentals, span of time in months or years for these crimes, and whether you have a sense of the % of those violent crimes that were truly random and not based on some existing (e.g., drugs) relationship.
Hope I don't incite a flame war - just want some better information before I start a relocation to bring the family down.
Personally I think you will be just fine. I have been here almost 2 years and have not been a victim. I have a 4 year old son and a disabled mother that I take care of. I also have a 27 year old daughter. She is in the service industry and is often out quite late at night and she has had no problems. Other people here have different experiences. I know 2 continentals personally who have been victims of random crime. One was robbed in a restaurant parking lot. One had their car burned but it was describe to me as mistaken identity. A while back there was someone breaking into and burglarizing houses when no one was there. Around the same time there was a peeping tom in the same neighborhood. The person that I "think" you are speaking of that got shot in the head, most people on this board believe that was a hoax. I have not heard that it has been confirmed, however someone I know asked a rescue squad person and they had not heard anything about it. Hubby just told me of a guy eating at a restaurant that had their motorcycle stolen while they were eating. Four guys carried it off down the street.
I feel quite safe here and don't engage in risky behavior. I hope this helps.
We are 60 years old and have been here for 4 plus years. We've had no negative experiences regarding crime. However, depending on your age, we may not be representative of you. We go out a lot, but usually not late at night.
The only time I am super cautious is driving home alnoe from work when I work late. I am careful to lock my car doors and stopping at traffic lights.
But we are comfortable and live our daily lives without fear of crime.
My feeling is that the crime on STX tends to fall into these categories:
- Drug-related violence (so don't do drugs)
- Revenge-related violence (so don't disrespect anybody)
- Burglaries, especially if the house is close to a paved road, or vacant for long periods
- Car break-ins (so don't leave valuables in your car, and perhaps leave them unlocked to avoid break-ins)
- Robberies of people who are alone in remote or deserted areas (so travel in groups, or don't go there)
Crime is a fact of life here, and is a top complaint among residents. However, I have enjoyed living in STX far more then anywhere else in the world. I understand what situations to avoid, and I do.
I also think you will be fine. And the report of that "continental who was shot in the head last weekend" being a cover-up has been largely discredited. It was also posted in this forum, and then yanked.
goodtogo~ You have probably read my thoughts on crime on this board and one could get the idea that violent crime is epidemic. That is not entirely true........Random violence is thankfully rare here. StxBob (above) is right on the money, mostly. Some thieves are getting a bit more brazen and are robbing people in busy areas in broad daylight. For me, a country boy used to small town living, it seems a little like the old west. I think for ex-city slickers it seems about normal. I came naive and was awakened abruptly. Now that I have learned to pay attention, I don't imagine I will see much more trouble. Most of the people here, both native and import are wonderful, friendly and kind. Don't worry about crime.....just "watch your topknot!" as the mountain men used to say.
Just to clear up the gunshot speculations...If you were talking about the shooting on Saturday there was one. It was not a continental but, rather, a 15 yr old local vs. a 23 yr old local. Not sure what it was over but it was in the same area as the "rumored" continental being shot. As a STX Rescue member also, I would not have heard about this call. I know about it because I am an EMT. Just so you know.
"As best you can recall the number of violent crimes you have trustworthy knowledge of that has happened against continentals, span of time in months or years for these crimes, and whether you have a sense of the % of those violent crimes that were truly random and not based on some existing (e.g., drugs) relationship."
16 months here. I know personally of two incidents of statesiders being robbed, one looked like a specific hit. No injuries. Add one near-robbery. Two of the three were "not fair" (the people were in a place at a time that is not considered high risk).
Further, this might help -- I follow the criminal prosecutions and random violence is rare. Of around two hundred cases, I have only three of crime against statesiders. Two are burglaries, same nice neighborhood. One is petty, the other atrocious. The third is against a tourist, and was a specific sort of "understandable" assault in circumstances that I would guess you are unlikely to duplicate.
I can also say with confidence that the AGs office on St. Croix prosecutes without concern for how it might affect tourism. I have no specific information on the police reporting practices with regard to tourism concerns, but believe its not really skewed.
I see a lot of the aftermath of violent crimes first hand since I work in the Emergency Room at the hospital. I work 3 to 4 nights a week and I can say that on almost every shift I work I see someone assaulted or a victim of a gunshot wound. Locals and statesiders alike. The most common assault that I see is someone driving down the road in their car with the window down and someone throws a brick or other object through the window injuring an occupant of the car. This weekend I had a guy come in with a random gunshot wound. I have a neighbor who was shot at a couple of months ago while driving with her husband in her jeep. I also have another friend who who's wife was held up at gunpoint a couple weeks ago. Keep your heads out of the sand people. Violent crime is alive and well on this island. The crimes I have relayed here are crimes that I just know about firsthand from people I know or have encountered at work. I don't keep track of crimes in the paper or on any other days or shifts in the ER so I'm sure what I'm telling you here is a super small sample of what actually happens.
I found this link to the USVI police department while searching for crime reports....thought it might be helpful. I also found that there is no mention of that murder we had seen posted on several of the Caribbean message boards regarding a "Thomas Fussell".
Hope you find this useful!
I believe the police blotter is pretty accurate...it is a small island with large gossip channels and it is extremely difficult to hush up criminal incidents the police are involved in. People always find out. Also, the Daily News and the police blotter are not always in sync with dates...a crime on Feb 29 in the Feb 29 blotter may not be published in the newspaper for a few days...if at all...