The U.S. State Department country profiles include warnings on crime and violence risks for visitors. Here's the crime advice for the Caribbean, by country. Some entries have been abbreviated; for the latest and complete information, including travel warnings and travel alerts, see the State Department's Travel website, http://travel.state.gov.
While Anguilla's crime rate is relatively low, both petty and violent crimes have been known to occur.
Petty street crime does occur, and valuables left unattended on beaches, in rental cars or in hotel rooms are vulnerable to theft. There has been an increase in crime in Antigua, including violent crimes. However, this increase has not, for the most part, affected visitors to the island. Visitors to Antigua and Barbuda are advised to be alert and maintain the same level of personal security used when visiting major U.S. cities.
The crime threat in Aruba is generally considered low. There have been incidents of theft from hotel rooms and armed robberies have been known to occur. Valuables left unattended on beaches, in cars and in hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft. Car theft, especially that of rental vehicles for joy riding and stripping, can occur. Parents of young travelers should be aware that the legal drinking age of 18 is not always rigorously enforced in Aruba, so extra parental supervision may be appropriate.
Young female travelers in particular are urged to take the same precautions they would when going out in the United States, e.g. to travel in pairs or in groups if they choose frequenting Aruba’s nightclubs and bars, and if they opt to consume alcohol, to do so responsibly.
The Bahamas has a high crime rate; however, areas frequented by tourists during the day are not generally prone to violent crime. Visitors should exercise caution and good judgment at all times and avoid high-risk personal behavior, particularly after dark. Most criminal incidents tend to take place in a part of Nassau not usually frequented by tourists (the "over-the-hill" area south of downtown). Violent crime has increased in these areas and has become more common in areas frequented by tourists, including the main shopping thoroughfare in Nassau, as well as in more recently developed residential areas.
Criminals also target restaurants and nightclubs frequented by tourists. One common approach for criminals is to offer victims a ride, either as a “personal favor” or by claiming to be a taxi, and then robbing and/or assaulting the passenger once they are in the car. Visitors should use only clearly marked taxis. In the last few years the U.S. Embassy has received numerous reports of sexual assaults, including assaults against teen-age girls. Most assaults have been perpetrated against intoxicated young women, some of whom had reportedly been drugged.
Crime in Barbados is characterized by petty theft and street crime. Incidents of violent crime, including rape, occur. Visitors should be especially vigilant on the beaches at night. Visitors should try to secure valuables in a hotel safe and take care to always lock and secure hotel room doors and windows.
Bermuda has a moderate but growing crime rate. Examples of common crimes include theft of unattended baggage and items from rental motorbikes, purse snatching (often perpetrated against pedestrians by thieves riding motorbikes), mugging, and theft from hotel rooms. Valuables left in hotel rooms (occupied and unoccupied) or left unattended in public areas are vulnerable to theft. The Consulate regularly receives reports of thefts of money, valuables, and passports and advises that travelers keep their hotel windows and doors locked at all times.
Criminals often target transportation systems and popular tourist attractions.
Travelers should exercise caution when walking after dark or visiting out-of-the-way places on the island, as they can be vulnerable to theft and sexual assault, and because narrow and dark roadways can contribute to accidents. There have been incidents of sexual assault and acquaintance rape, and the use of "date rape" drugs such as Rohypnol has been reported in the media and confirmed by local authorities; one local advocacy group reports an increase in reporting the use of these drugs and accompanying sexual assault.
Travelers should also note an increase in gang presence in Bermuda and should take regular precautions to avoid confrontation. The back streets of Hamilton are often the setting for nighttime assaults, particularly after the bars close.
Thefts and armed robberies do occur in the BVI. Law enforcement authorities in the BVI have informed the Embassy that the number of armed robberies increased in the first half of 2007. Visitors should take common-sense precautions against petty crime. Travelers should avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use hotel safety deposit facilities to safeguard valuables and travel documents. Do not leave valuables unattended on the beach or in cars. Always lock up boats when going ashore.
The crime threat in Cayman Islands is generally considered low although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. 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 have alluded to increased availability of drugs and several persons have been arrested for possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy, among other drugs. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances.
Crime statistics are significantly under-reported by the Cuban government. Although crime against American and other foreign travelers in Cuba has generally been limited to pick pocketing, purse snatching, or the taking of unattended items, there have been increased reports of violent assaults against individuals in connection with robberies. Pick pocketings and purse snatchings usually occur in crowded areas such as markets, beaches, and other gathering points, including Old Town Havana and the Prado neighborhood.
U.S. visitors should also beware of Cuban jineteros, or street "jockeys," who specialize in swindling tourists. While most jineteros speak English and go out of their way to appear friendly, e.g. by offering to serve as tour guides or to facilitate the purchase of cheap cigars, many are in fact professional criminals who will not hesitate to use violence in their efforts to acquire tourists' money and other valuables. Thefts of property from air travelers' baggage have become increasingly common.
All travelers should ensure that valuables remain under their personal control at all times, and are never put into checked baggage.
Petty street crime occurs in Dominica. Valuables left unattended, especially on beaches, are vulnerable to theft.
Crime continues to be a problem throughout the Dominican Republic. Street crime and petty theft involving U.S. tourists does occur. While pick pocketing and mugging are the most common crimes against tourists, reports of violence against both foreigners and locals are growing. Criminals can be dangerous and visitors walking the streets should always be aware of their surroundings. Valuables left unattended in parked automobiles, on beaches and in other public places are vulnerable to theft, and reports of car theft have increased.
Cellular telephones should be carried in a pocket rather than on a belt or in a purse. One common method of street robbery is for at least one person on a moped (often coasting with the engine turned off so as not to draw attention) to approach a pedestrian, grab his or her cell phone, purse or backpack, and then speed away.
Many criminals have weapons and are likely to use them if they meet resistance. Be wary of strangers, especially those who seek you out at celebrations or nightspots. Traveling and moving about in a group is advisable. The dangers present in the Dominican Republic, even in resort areas, are similar to those of many major U.S. cities.
Burglaries of private residences continue to be reported as well as crimes of violence. Criminals may also misrepresent themselves in an effort to gain access to your residence or hotel room. Some travelers have been stopped while driving and asked for “donations” by someone who may appear to be a police officer before they would be allowed to continue on their way. Usually, the person(s) stopping the American drivers had approached from behind on a motorcycle. In some cases, the perpetrators were dressed in the light green uniform of “AMET,” the Dominican traffic police or military fatigues.
In 2006, the U.S. Embassy received reports of Americans and others who were victims of vehicular-armed robberies in the northern provinces of the Dominican Republic. At least three of the reports indicate the victims were intercepted during the morning hours, when there was little other traffic, while driving on rural highways connecting Santiago and Puerto Plata.
Although kidnappings are not common in the Dominican Republic, in 2007, two American citizens were kidnapped and held for ransom, in separate instances.
Passengers in “carros publicos” are frequently the victims of pick pocketing, and passengers have on occasion been robbed by “carro publico” drivers. There are continuing reports of thefts that target Americans as they leave the airport in a taxi that lacks air-conditioning. The driver rolls down the windows and when the taxi stops at a traffic light, a motorcyclist reaches in and steals a purse or anything they can grab. The U.S. Embassy strongly advises Americans to restrict severely the use of credit/debit cards in the Dominican Republic.
The increase in credit card fraud is particularly pronounced in the eastern resort areas of the Dominican Republic. According to reports, store workers, restaurant service staff and hotel employees may conceal devices that can instantly record the credit card information. The use of ATMs should be minimized as a means of avoiding theft or misuse. One local ATM fraud scheme involves sticking photographic film or pieces of paper in the card feeder of the ATM so that an inserted card becomes jammed.
Once the card owner has concluded the card is irretrievable, the thieves extract both the jamming material and the card, which they then use. The overall level of crime tends to rise during the Christmas season, and visitors to the Dominican Republic should take extra precautions when visiting the country between November and January.
The Embassy occasionally receives reports of instances of sexual assault at the resorts, particularly while at the beach. “All-inclusives” are well known for serving abundant quantities of alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption may decrease a person’s ability to be aware of their surroundings, making them an easy target for crime.
Petty street crime, including purse snatching, occurs throughout the French West Indies. Visitors should take care whenever traveling to safeguard valuables and always lock hotel rooms and car doors.
Street crime occurs in Grenada. Tourists have been victims of armed robbery especially in isolated areas and thieves frequently steal credit cards, jewelry, U.S. passports and money. Mugging, purse snatching and other robberies may occur in areas near hotels, beaches and restaurants, particularly after dark. Visitors should exercise appropriate caution when walking after dark or when using the local bus system or taxis hired on the road. It is advisable to hire taxis to and from restaurants.
There are no "safe areas" in Haiti. Crime has increased in recent years and can be subject to periodic surges. Reports of kidnapping, death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, armed robberies, break-ins or carjackings are common. These crimes are primarily Haitian against Haitian, though several foreigners and U.S. citizens have been victimized. In 2007, there were 29 reported kidnappings of American citizens, including two victims who were killed. Kidnapping remains the most critical security concern; kidnappers frequently target children.
U.S. citizens who travel to Haiti should exercise extreme caution throughout the country. Criminal perpetrators often operate in groups of two to four individuals, and are disposed occasionally to be confrontational and gratuitously violent. Criminals sometimes will seriously injure or kill those who resist their attempts to commit crime.
U.S. citizens must be particularly alert when arriving at the Port-au-Prince airport, as criminals have often targeted arriving passengers for later assaults and robberies. Visitors to Haiti should arrange for someone known to them to meet them at the airport.
Certain high-crime zones in the Port-au-Prince area should be avoided, including Croix-des-Bouquets, Carrefour, Martissant, the port road (Boulevard La Saline), urban route Nationale #1, the airport road (Boulevard Toussaint L'Ouverture) and its adjoining connectors to the New ("American") Road via Route Nationale #1 (which should also be avoided). This latter area in particular has been the scene of numerous robberies, carjackings, and murders. Embassy employees are prohibited from remaining in the downtown area after dark or entering Cite Soleil and La Saline and their surrounding environs due to significant criminal activity.
Neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince once considered relatively safe, such as the Delmas road area and Petionville, have been the scenes of an increasing number of violent crimes.
Cameras and video cameras should only be used with the permission of the subjects; violent incidents have followed unwelcome photography. Their use should be avoided altogether in high-crime areas.
Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often bring a significant increase in criminal activity. Haiti's Carnival season is marked by street celebrations in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. In recent years, Carnival has been accompanied by civil disturbances, altercations and severe traffic disruptions. Random stabbings during Carnival season are frequent. Roving musical bands called “rah-rahs” operate during the period from New Year's Day through Carnival. Being caught in a rah-rah event may begin as an enjoyable experience, but the potential for injury and the destruction of property is high.
The Haitian police are understaffed, poorly equipped and unable to respond to most calls for assistance. There are continued allegations of police complicity in criminal activity.
Crime, including violent crime, is a serious problem in Jamaica, particularly in Kingston. While the vast majority of crimes occur in impoverished areas, the violence is not confined. The primary criminal concern of a tourist is being a victim of theft. In several cases, armed robberies of Americans have turned violent when the victims resisted handing over valuables.
The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to avoid inner-city areas of Kingston and other urban centers. Particular caution is advised after dark in downtown Kingston. The Embassy also cautions its staff not to use public buses, which are often overcrowded and are a frequent venue for crime.
Particular care is called for when staying at isolated villas and smaller establishments that may have fewer security arrangements. Some street vendors and taxi drivers in tourist areas are known to confront and harass tourists to buy their wares or employ their services. If a firm "No, thank you" does not solve the problem, visitors may wish to seek the assistance of a tourist police officer.
Drug use is prevalent in some tourist areas. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding, or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances. There is anecdotal evidence that the use of so-called date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol, has become more common at clubs and private parties. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illegal narcotics are especially potent in Jamaica, and their use may lead to severe or even disastrous health consequences.
The crime rate in Montserrat is low. However, travelers should take normal, common sense precautions. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and displaying expensive jewelry. Use hotel safety deposit facilities to safeguard valuables and travel documents.
In recent years, street crime has increased, especially in St. Maarten. Valuables, including passports, left unattended on beaches, in cars and hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft, and visitors should leave valuables and personal papers secured in their hotel. Burglary and break-ins are increasingly common at resorts, beach houses and hotels. Armed robbery occasionally occurs. The American boating community has reported a handful of incidents in the past, and visitors are urged to exercise reasonable caution in securing boats and belongings.
Car theft, especially of rental vehicles for joy riding and stripping, can occur. Incidents of break-ins to rental cars to steal personal items have been reported by American tourists. Vehicle leases or rentals may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen. Be sure you are sufficiently insured when renting vehicles and jet skis.
Petty street crime occurs in St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as the occasional burglary; visitors and residents should take common-sense precautions. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use hotel safety deposit facilities to safeguard valuables and travel documents. Do not leave valuables unattended on the beach or in cars. Exercise caution when walking alone at night.
In 2006, there were five reported incidents of U.S. citizen visitors to St. Lucia staying in boutique hotels in rural areas being robbed at gunpoint in their rooms; some of the victims were assaulted and one was raped. In September 2007, a U.S. citizen was robbed in her room at a resort hotel near Castries by armed men. Visitors should inquire about their hotel’s security arrangements before making reservations.
Petty street crime occurs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. From time to time, property has been stolen from yachts anchored in the Grenadines. Valuables left unattended on beaches are vulnerable to theft. Persons interested in nature walks or hikes in the northern areas of St. Vincent should arrange in advance with a local tour operator for a guide; these areas are isolated, and police presence is limited.
Incidents of violent crime have been steadily on the rise on both islands. Visitors to Trinidad and Tobago should exercise caution and good judgment, as in any large urban area, particularly when traveling after dark from Trinidad's Piarco Airport. There have been incidents involving armed robbers trailing arriving passengers from the airport and then accosting them outside the gates of their residences. Areas to avoid in Trinidad include Laventille, Morvant, Sea Lots, South Belmont, scenic rest stops, walking across the Queen’s Park Savannah, and downtown Port of Spain (after dark), as tourists are particularly vulnerable to pick pocketing and armed assaults in these locations.
Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often see an increase in criminal activity.
Violent crimes, including assault, kidnapping for ransom, sexual assault and murder, have involved foreign residents and tourists, including U.S. citizens.
Robbery is a risk, particularly in urban areas and especially near ATMs and shopping malls. In some cases, robberies of Americans have turned violent and resulted in injuries after the victim resisted handing over valuables.
In Tobago, the media have reported an increase in the incidence of violent crimes. There have been reports of home invasions in the Mt. Irvine area, and robberies occurring on isolated beaches in Tobago. Visitors to Tobago should ensure that all villas or private homes have adequate security measures.
Visitors to Trinidad and Tobago are also advised to be cautious when visiting isolated beaches or scenic overlooks where robberies can occur. We advise against visiting the Ft. George scenic overlook in Port of Spain because of lack of security and a number of recent armed robberies.
Tourists at La Brea Pitch Lake in South Trinidad were targets of criminals in 2004 and 2005.
The U.S. Embassy urges caution in the use of the small buses or vans in Trinidad, known as "Maxi Taxis" (full-size inter-city buses are usually safe). Unmarked shared taxis authorized to pick up passengers will have the letter 'H' as the first letter on their license plates. Some shared taxis and maxi taxis have been linked to petty crime.
Petty street crime does occur. Visitors should not leave valuables unattended in their hotel rooms or on the beach. Visitors should make sure that their hotel room doors are securely locked at night.