Barbados Prime Minister emails Canadian tourist: “(Boscobel Road Toll Gang) has been investigated… I have received no other negative reports”

“I just wrote the government (about the Boscobel Road Toll Gang) and the PM responded:

I believe that this matter has been investigated and I have certainly received no other negative reports”

Mar 09, 2010, 7:43 AM comment by Ottawa-based tourist ChrisB on Trip Advisor

“My wife and I just returned from Barbados. We were shaken down by “Sean” and his friends and paid $10 to pass…

He actually jumped in the backseat of our Moke for a few minutes, which was a bit frightening. Alas we paid and moved on.

It is indeed still a problem.”

March 10, 2010 3:42pm comment by New York-based tourist jbm4130 on Trip Advisor

"The road is closed. I need ten dollars."

Prime Minister’s statement “Has been Investigated” means “No arrests. Nothing changed”

The leading travel website Trip Advisor has several forums going on the Barbados Boscobel Road Toll Gang where tourists to Barbados from around the world relate some of their stories for others. Similar Boscobel stories are carried on other travel forums as well.

Remember folks: this isn’t Barbados Free Press breaking this story. Dozens of tourists have related their experiences at Trip Advisor and other sites over the last few years and our police have done nothing. In the new world of the internet Barbados ignores this continuing gang activity at its peril. We first reported this story in September of 2008, but the tourist reports go back more than five years.

Members of the Boscobel Road Toll Gang stop tourist hired cars by standing in front of them. They inform the drivers that the road is closed, instruct them to drive another way and demand money for the “assistance”. They are big, nasty men and most of the tourists pay. It is a lucrative business for the gang.

Always seven or eight sitting at the “T” intersection and while one engages the driver in conversation another will sometimes come up behind on the passenger side, reach through an open window to grab a purse or a camera and then run like hell.

NEW REPORT: Gang members getting bolder – Entering cars, sitting in the rear seat behind driver!

A dangerous escalation…

The Royal Barbados Police Force is well aware of this bunch of thieves, but officers have apparently done nothing except take the reports from the poor tourists who are stupid enough to stop and roll down their windows. The Commissioner doesn’t seem to care and neither do the local officers who have actually been seen on occasion to wave at the gang members as they drive by on patrol.

The locals are now getting harassed as well. This, along with the gang members climbing into vehicles for “a friendly chat” are signs of a dangerous escalation. The gang is getting bolder.

On February 19, 2010 a UK tourist with family in Barbados wrote on Trip Advisor:

“I have my suspicions why this still goes on but if Barbados wants to keep it’s tourists then they need to sort it out.”

Another tourist, this one from New York city answered:

“This is a disgrace. And it’s continuance makes the police seem complicit.”

Hey, not to worry folks. Prime Minister David Thompson says “I believe that this matter has been investigated and I have certainly received no other negative reports”

I guess the PM doesn’t read Trip Advisor like the foreign tourists do.

Further Reading at Barbados Free Press

January 8, 2010 Barbados Police Helpless as hundreds of tourists extorted every month by Boscobel road toll gang

June 17, 2009 Boscobel Road Toll Gang Still Operating Freely In Barbados

September 16, 2008 Barbados Police Helpless In Stopping Boscobel Road Toll Gang

* About the photo: We are only using it to illustrate the story and have made the photo dark, blurry and sinister as a new work of art. The person in the photo is not associated with the Boscobel Toll Gang and has never been to Barbados. He is probably a nice, honest person.


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, Police, Tourism, Traveling and Tourism

25 responses to “Barbados Prime Minister emails Canadian tourist: “(Boscobel Road Toll Gang) has been investigated… I have received no other negative reports”

  1. West Side Davie

    After all these years this scam is still going on? Some of the gang must be heading for their 40th birthday. Send in the BDF. Unlike the police they don’t fool around.

  2. Wake Up Barbados

    Until the govt wakes up and address important issues like this and the Schwarzfeld murder (yes it was indeed murder no matter what they say) all your going to see is more empty hotel rooms, higher unemployment and more crime.

    How about some action instead of sitting on your butts talking about it?

  3. Brent

    UPDATE : Press meeting RE: Cabinet meeting of 25th March , 2010.

    PM David Thompson has just announced that the Hon. Dr. David Estwick has been assigned an additional portfolio.

    Dr. Estwick, in addition to his other porfolios , has been assigned as Minister responsible for Parliamentary Affairs.

    The PM has indicated that he has sound knowledge in this area and there is no one better qualified to handle this portfolio.

    Congrats, Dr. David Estwick on you new appointment.

    We in St. Philip West adore you.

  4. Politically tired

    West Side Davy
    I spoke the the BDF some time ago about this gang, no change.

  5. Jason

    Is it time for a citizens’ group to go to these people and request that they leave the roadside? We could have a little cricket lesson while we’re at it. Cricket is a unifying sport.

    I am sure that a citizens’ committee of 40 or 50 neighbours could teach these 7 or 8 gang members a little bit about cricket. How to receive a good pitch. When to give up on a play.

    That sort of lesson. I am sure they would be receptive.

  6. 144

    one man asked for lift – demanded money at end of trip but was not violent

    another leaned inside car demanding money

    this in two trips!

  7. drewster

    Nip it in the bud b4 it spreads to other areas, there is no point in pulling the wool over your eyes at a time that you should be stamping out this practice we have many copycats out there who thrive on this sort of thing

  8. Chris B

    That was me who wrote the PM (along with the High Commissioner to Canada, the Minister of Tourism and the Chief of Police). Mr. Thompson responded as above, but I subsequently heard about other incidents. So, I didn’t want the hassle and we ended up not going north – I wrote Mr. Warren at St. Nicholas Abbey explaining to him why we would not be visiting (and paying and buying rum). He informed me that they have tried numerous times to get the Police to deal with this. But apparently without avail.

  9. Canadian Tourist

    We avoided going to St. Nicholas Abbey because the road signs on Barbados are so terrible (i.e. non-existent) that we were worried we would end up at the Boscobel Road intersection and be robbed like everyone else. It wasn’t worth the risk. Being mugged or having a thief jump into your car with the threat of violence would absolutely would ruin a vacation, and knowing that this goes on with the implicit consent of the government and police is disgusting and even scarier. I think a further investigation should be done into why the police have allowed this to continue.

    I would seriously think twice about coming to Barbados if this is a country where the police tolerate crime against tourists (and residents?).

  10. drewster

    We need 2 get 2 thr bottom of this ” toll gang ‘ issue b4 it evolves in2 a monster in the international media, just think of the damage that a story like this could cause,remember other caribbean destinations are cheaper and closer to north america and people wont hesitate to avoid our shores, the other places have sea and sand just like our beaches and lots of sunshine so please try to keep the tourist comming

  11. peltdownman

    It is really time that we introduced the concept of an “economic crime”. That is, any criminal conduct that can directly affect the economy of the country, such as crimes against visitors, and criminal conduct in the international business sector that puts Barbados in the regulators’ spotlight.

  12. Thewhiterabbit

    When a purported minister of government purportedly draws a purported fire arm and purportedly threatens another purported minister of government, and the purported Prime Minister goes on public television to tell folks not to worry, that similar incidences have happened purportedly happened in the purported parliament in the past, we are in trouble so deep that a little purported expropriation purportedly conducted at Boscobel is of very, very , minor consequence. Jamaica, here we come!

  13. idicus

    We encountered these lay-abouts last christmas and they were just as all the reports explained. Further we were warned that they would appear when and where they did. Barbados, it seems, is slipping into the mire of corrupt government practice, where the only service is lip service and self service. No offence intended, but bajuns, please, reclaim your country! Do it now while you still can lest you become just like the rest of the carib and surrender your crown as the best island. DEMAND action on crime! Just saying….

  14. Politically tired

    Maybe this article can be e mailed to the Prime Minister BFP? its ridiculous that after all these years this gang is still in operation. Our Police Force must be pathetic if they can’t deal with a problem like this.

  15. Avatar Gurl


    Consider the possibility that some of these dudes may either know guys in the BPF, or are police themselves?

    Hey, any money is good money, regardless of how you get it…

    Could that be why the police do nothing? Are they getting a cut of the proceeds?

    Gotta ask the interesting questions…

  16. drewster

    this is a real slap in our peoples face a couple of weeks ago we went out for a drink only to find a charity event in progress well we entered anyway and proceeded to order some drinks from the bar there was no indication that the event was a private affair only when the propiertor started telling a local man that he had to leave the premises because there was a function in progress there, but there were other tourist in the place on that evening who had walked in off the street that evening and were buying drinks from the bar , now would somebody please tell me if it is still not ok for locals to frequent the bars that the tourist and expats go to for their evening entertainment. the owner was way out of order and i do hope that these aliens who come to our country and set up buisness get with the program and know that we are wearof them making a mockery of us bajans, the younger generations will not tolerate this nonsence we have to stand up and let these people know that barbados is ours

  17. Sasa

    Drewster, the proprietor probably sensed that you had a punctuation problem and decided to oust you before things got unintelligible.

  18. drewster

    What is good for one should be good for all this is 2010

  19. You’d never believe who confirmed what you said all along?

  20. Syn

    I don’t want to seem to be purporting violence but why hasn’t anyone’s foot slipped of the brake when these men are in the road?? I assume with all the larger cars I see in Barbados these days that one or two (maybe just the first 🙂 trips to the QEH would be enough to keep these young men occupied as they seem to be rather bored if all they can do is play road tennis all the time – granted a tourist might be a bit squeamish but a local ?? a couple toes or a leg – I just saying give them something to occupy their time they could read to the other patients or something.

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