Daily Archives: January 23, 2012

Tripadvisor: Boscobel Toll Gang still frightening tourists

Barbados Police unable to stop gang for seven years

With 27 million unique visitors a month, TripAdvisor.com is the world’s most popular travel website – and right now a very active topic of discussion on the Barbados forum is (once again) the Boscobel Toll Gang.

That discussion is bad for Barbados tourism, but there is this little uncontrollable thing called the internet where tourists discuss and report how their latest vacation went. Obviously our government hasn’t adapted to that reality because our leaders still think that if they ignore bad news it will eventually go away. Apparently our leaders are wrong.

The Boscobel “Road Toll Gang” have been seriously doing their thing for at least seven years now. They 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 then 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. Sometimes they arrange to be struck by the vehicle and then fall down “injured”. Sometimes they will even open an unlocked door and, UNINVITED, enter and sit down in the vehicle to further “talk” to the terrified tourists.

Reports say they sometimes stop as many as twenty or thirty vehicles on a busy day in good weather. Do the math: even at five vehicle stops a day with the usual two tourists per car we’re talking about hundreds of tourists a month having a bad experience with the Boscobel Toll Gang. That makes the Boscobel Toll Gang a serious problem for Barbados tourism even if TripAdvisor wasn’t carrying the story.

Shooting in Boscobel

In November of 2010 there was a shooting at a Boscobel football match and it was rumoured that some of the Boscobel Toll Gang were involved. If any further information came to light one way or the other we didn’t hear. Perhaps one of our readers can fill in the blanks?

As far as stopping cars, I think we heard about the police arresting one fellow but it has obviously had no effect on the overall activities of the gang. It’s the usual story with our police – they seem unable to commit to long term solutions to standing problems. They make one arrest and then call the job done. The leadership seems incapable of realizing that this one group of young men is doing so much harm to our tourism industry at a time when we desperately need every visitor to be saying nothing but positive things about Barbados.

Remember folks: this isn’t Barbados Free Press breaking this story. Dozens and dozens of tourists have related their experiences at Trip Advisor 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.

Here are a few recent quotes from people in the U.K., the USA and Barbados as taken from the Trip Advisor website today…

Jan 22, 2012, 3:00 PM
Nelson_France – UK

We drove through Boscobel 3 days ago and at 2 separate places these guys did try to stop us by standing in the road and saying that the road ahead was closed and that we had to go a different way. Luckily we had been warned and didn’t stop but it was a frightening experience and I wouldn’t have liked to have been surrounded by them if we had stopped – I think it would have been difficult to get away safely without some possible dents to car doors etc if you hadn’t handed over money. We were of course 2 European looking people in an H registered rental car so we were quite obviously tourists. We were put off going down to Cove Bay after our experience as we weren’t sure we could get out without being stopped again. It’s a shame the local police don’t do something about it Continue reading

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