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

Jan 17, 2012, 5:51 PM
Babiface – London
Destination Expert for Barbados

Last Friday I drove through Boscobel on the way to North Point and was flagged down in two areas by two different guys. They were shouting out that the road was closed. I just kept on driving and would have quite happily knocked them down if they hadn’t jumped out of the way.

So …. they are still there.

Jan 17, 2012, 6:04 PM
BGIWorldTraveller – Barbados
Destination Expert for Barbados

Seems like they’re targeting certain persons. Everytime I drive through there (which is 4-5 times a month) I never see anything out of the ordinary. Maybe the license plates registered H (Hired Vehicle) tips them off, which is truly unfortunate.

Jan 17, 2012, 4:33 PM
kirimist – United Kingdom
Destination Expert for Barbados

Interesting comments, as a couple of fellow travellers in November described being stopped in the manner used by the gang whilst travelling up to North Point.

Jan 18, 2012, 9:50 AM
BostonTropix – Boston

Thanks for the heads up . . . really wanted to check out Little Bay and Cove Bay, but may now reconsider, although if there are four if us with the doors locked I may still be tempted to take our rental car up there . . .it’s a shame that the police don’t make these guys stop . . can’t be making the North Coast residents and businesses very happy.

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35 Comments

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

35 responses to “Tripadvisor: Boscobel Toll Gang still frightening tourists

  1. Adrian Loveridge

    I am not even sure that the tourism policymakers read TripAdvisor so that may be the challenge. Remember a previous BTA chairman referred to the worlds largest travel website as a ‘menace’ despite its current 50 million unique visitors each month and over 60 million reviews and opinions.
    Over the last week, TENS of MILLIONS of people all over the world have
    been reading about the winners of the 10th Annual Travelers Choice Awards,
    Savy national, regional and individual city/resort destination marketing agencies have piggybacked on the success of the awardees to gain absolutely FREE (no cost) publicity that very few could afford to pay for.
    Clearly the Barbados Goverment marketing agency does not seem to think that we need this media coverage.

    1) Top 25 Luxury Hotels in Caribbean – Sandy Lane #1
    2) Top 25 Bed and Breakfasts and Inns in Caribbean – Bayfield House #5 and Sweetfield Manor #24
    3) Top 25 Hotels for Service in Caribbean – Little Arches Boutique Hotel – #23
    4) Top 25 Trendiest Hotels in Caribbean – Silver Point #13 – The House #23
    5) Top 25 Relaxation/Spa Hotels in Caribbean – Sugar Cane #2 – Waves #5 – Sandy Lane #15
    6) Top 25 Bargain Hotels in Caribbean – Southern Surf Beach Apartments #8 – Peach and Quiet #9

    Sugar Cane submitted their own release to the BTA and it is carried on the BTA FaceBook site but that seems all they are going to do with this incredible opportunity.
    ‘Unlike ANY other hotel honours, TripAdvisor Travelers Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from travellers around the world’.
    When you stop listening to your customers, you really have a problem.

  2. jrjrjrjr

    In 2010 we were threatened by a guy in the car park of BigB’s near Worthing post officer. My husband complained to security and Management in the store, which fell on death ears. Unfortunately the troublemaker chose the wrong guy to mess with that day and the next ! But more passiev tourists may well have been terrifeid by the experience. The supermarket’s answerwas that the guy ‘does it all the time’ ! No action taken though . It was a nasty experience

  3. charlie aspin

    Travelling through the area near Boscobel in September a young man tried to divert us indicating that the road ahead was blocked. I simply drove right through ( nearly hiting him) having been warned in advance of this possibility. Later on came upon a Military Jeep and reported the incident. don’t know what came of it. the place should be patrolled regularly, this is a tragedy waiting to happen. I won’t take much to further diminsh Barbados as a tourist destination

  4. Green Monkey

    Another place apparently not quite as bad (yet) as Boscobel is at the entrance to the animal flower cave where for the last few years the vendors have set up souvenir selling stands alongside the entrance gap to the caves right off the main road. They then bound out at incoming cars to the attraction and attempt to wave them down like they have some urgent news to impart, (e.g. accident up ahead, caves closed down for high seas etc) and then when the car is stopped they try to harass (and I would almost say intimidate) their victims into buying some piece of sh!te trinket from them.

    Having learned my lesson the first time I drove in their several years ago, when I took a visiting friend up their the other day, I almost had the dubious pleasure of licking down one of these jokers as he jumped out from the roadside almost in front of my car frantically waving his arms at me while I just kept going.

  5. Bajan Boy

    Why don’t the Police go undercover and play the part of tourists. Then maybe they can catch the gang in the act or maybe set up cctv cameras!!

  6. WordSong

    The Government has not a clue about the advantages/disadvantages of social marketing. They spend thousands of dollars on incompetents to do their jobs for them with their “trade shows” etc that reap very little. As for the toll gang, it doesn’t seem that it would be very difficult to stop them. Everyone knows where the bad boys from Boscobelle are and where they operate. The gangs in Barbados generally work out of well known places and should not be hard to bust – but now we hear of so much police corruption, political corruption, politicians and drug lords working together etc, who knows what to expect? At the end of the day, it’s all bad for Barbados. I was on TripAdvisor a few years ago and saw the hatchet job that visitors did on the Almond beach. I was stunned that the info about the state of that hotel wasn’t in the newspapers before now. Government can do a lot more. I daresay the private sector can also advertise on social media – you need not sit and wait on government all the time to do the job. Firms basically run the show in most advanced countries. Time for firms in Barbados to step up to the plate too.

  7. My first visit to Barbados was in 2009 and I have been coming back regularly. I travel all over this great island and I keep telling people how safe it is. Maybe I am wrong? I hope not. Yes there are bad people who will do unspeakable things ( no different then anywhere else), we all need to not be the fool and keep your eyes and ears open while you are traveling. This whole thing about trying to stop you while driving is not new. When ever you are driving anywhere you have to think…”what does those person really want? should I stop? are my doors locked? Is this a safe place to stop?” I agree with Bajan boy, why are the police going under cover to catch these guys?

  8. jrjrjrjr

    In 1982 we vame across an undercover armed policeman outside the Flower Forest entrance. His cover wasn’t the best as my husband sussed him immediately. So if the authorities did it then why not now

  9. no one cares

    Wuhnna is a bundle of idiots.
    Wuhnna can”t see that THE GOVERNMENT, BTA, or the POLICE DO NOT CARE BOUT THIS BOSCOBELLE thing????
    This has been going on for years. Touristes complaining for years. The boys are not hiding. They even stop locals that look lost too. Stop confusing the internet about it and talk bout something else. PLEASE STOP
    That is how we do things in Barbados. WE ARE NOT A PROACTIVE PEOPLE. Things got to get out of hand then we might consider thinking about planning to look at it.

  10. NYC/BGI

    There is no reason for tourist have to endure the lax behavior of the Police. the problem is systemic because the PM and the BTA have no interest in preserving BGI as a peaceful and safe destination. Look around at Aruba, the Bahamas and any urban city . crime is an issue and they have solved the issue and a small island like BGI cannot solve crime then its time to replace the Chief of Police and perhaps his complete command, No thugs should be able to rule. last resort can in the US FBI or MI6. Come on get with it

  11. Jack Bowman

    Dear BFP Folks,

    It’s mind-bending that this still happens. It’s beyond belief. The Twilight Zone. Barbados’s own little Outer Limits.

    The solution to the problem is so obvious that it’s hard not to believe that the people responsible for solving the problem aren’t indescribably stupid.

    Let’s imagine a country. Let’s call it, for the sake of argument, “Sodadrab”.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the country is a very small island. Could be, for example, about 21 miles long and about 14 miles wide at its broadest bit. Really small. It has a vote at the United Nations and it has its own police force. It’s tiny.

    Let’s say that fully 50 percent of Sodadrab’s economy depends on tourism. Let’s take that as a given. If you are a Sodadrabian, that necessarily means that every single person you know is either involved in tourism or has a close friend/relative whose livelihood depends on tourism. And the life-prospects of that friend’s children depend on that friend’s livelihood.

    Let’s say that Sodadrab’s police force is provided with, over a period of many years, incontrovertible proof that a gang of thugs is extorting tourists in precisely one, one, one, ONE, TINY little bit of ONE, TINY little bit of the TINY territory over which this police force has jurisdiction.

    Let’s say that there is incontrovertible evidence that the continued presence of this gang of thugs is disrupting the prospects of tourism to Sodadrab. And let’s remember that half of Sodadrab’s economy depends on tourism.

    Now, if you had any say in the operations of Sodadrab’s law enforcement, what would you do?

    1. Let the thugs continue to do what they do.

    2. Stop the thugs from doing what they do.

    Obviously, this is an extremely difficult question, so extra marks will be awarded to anyone who provides the right answer.

    Equally obviously, it’s extremely difficult to determine what Sodadrab’s law enforcement agencies should do about this. Even more difficult is exactly HOW they should even TRY to stop it.

    I spoke to my cat Monty about this, and I asked him these questions. He had a couple of good ideas. But what you gonna do? Monty’s a CAT. He has no jurisdiction here, and he has a brain the size of a sprout. His cognition is limited.

    Perhaps I overestimated the cognitive functions of Sodadrab’s law enforcement agencies. But it must surely suck to be less bright than a cat.

  12. Don’t fine dem, don’t imprison dem
    Take dem to Hero Square, and let everybody be der.
    Hit them wid de cat, and dey bound to dun wid dat.

    If you don’t tink de Cat works, check de record and fin’ out who needed it twice. It could be a tourist attraction too. Thought we wanted to follow Singapore ? De only difference is they does give the death penalty der, fast fast. They ain’t mek joke, at all, at all. They does give warning, even in the airport as you arrive in Singapore, ‘specially for carrying drugs and dem.

  13. Jack Bowman

    So Big Col Beadon had this to say:

    “Don’t fine dem, don’t imprison dem
    Take dem to Hero Square, and let everybody be der.
    Hit them wid de cat, and dey bound to dun wid dat.”

    And when you read something like that, the first thing that sparks a thought in your brain is a question: How can anyone be be so monumentally stupid?

  14. watcher

    Is not beautiful Barbados anymore. It simply is no longer safe. Grafeti starting to appear….lots of drug pushers and robbers right on the beaches…safer now to have that “all inclusive vacation” in a well protected hotel,. I was robbed on the beach by the Hilton. The police didn’t seem to give a dam.

  15. LT

    This same thing occurs at a junction on the way to cove bay and little bay. Though a bit less intrusive, the men do request to get into your car and “show you the way around the construction” to cove bay and little bay, requesting money afterward and also making a scenario in which they are completely alone with you. That has happened to me about 5 times while driving around Barbados.

  16. Our middle name is INACTION

    Did anyone see the MS-13 graffiti on the wall of Westbury Cemetery??

    The mere fact that anyone down that way would put that there scares me.
    If you don’t know about MS-13, I suggest you look it up.
    try Wikipedia.

    Soon be time to move to Trinidad, where crime is about the same but the cost of living as lot easier, and the girls a SIGHT better lookin than what’s to be seen around here

  17. Newbie

    The authorities as usual will wait until something disastrous happens, then sirens will be echoing all over Barbados and you will see how quickly someone is arrested. Proactive, what does that word mean.

  18. Wily Coyote

    Government Policy ” Leave the local N’s alone” all Bagans have to make a living, that is until the tourists go somewhere civilized.

  19. ME

    Wily, I hope your use Ns does not mean what I think it means. If so I wil deal with your Coyote ass.

  20. Carmeta Fraser

    Before I passed away, I described Bajan society as a crisis society
    one where the sand has to hit the fan, before anything gets done.

    I’m sad to say that, so many years after my passing
    it has not got better, in fact it looks like it has got worse!

    _____________________________________
    Btw, Food Comes First in Heaven too!

  21. Britty Brat

    If you want the RBPF to visit the site, report that someone got 2 herb trees growing in a bucket. POW!! They will appear with bulletproof vest, dogs and guns.

  22. Little Jonnie

    Or…just research where you’re going in advance, have your windows up, and if someone tries to flap you down, just drive faster. If you hit those ijits, just say they were not at a pedestrian crossing…why were they in the middle of the road?

  23. jrjrjrjr

    Sadly they are waiting until a fatality happens . THEN IT WILL BE TOO LATE. YOU WON’T SEE TOURISTS FOR DUST

  24. 90

    Since this has been going on so long and it seems nothing has been or is being done has anyone served it to the powers that be in control on a platter so it can be addressed instead of leaving it to chance that they , like myself will , will one day stumble upon Barbados Free Press and by extention, Trip Advisor? Or can I safely say that they have been put in the know and are simply leaving it until Barbados reaches Reuter for something very heinous?

  25. Pingback: Idiocy: Criminal charges, $10,000 bail for streaking at cricket match. | Barbados Free Press

  26. Tareddy

    There’s no road toll gang. BFP made that sh¡t up

  27. yatinkiteasy

    Also, there are NO gangs in Barbados. The Commissioner of Police said so….Therefore it must be true!

  28. Grantley

    I drove past these hooligans last time I drove up to North Point. I just pretended to speak a foreign language, and that I couldn’t understand them- then put the peddle to the metal and honked my horn as I sped off!
    Entertaining for my children on the back seat. But it is concerning that if the Barbados Police Force can’t put a stop to fools like this, what chance do they have in stopping hardened criminals and gangs like MS-13, drug dealers and rapists on the island?

  29. Grantley

    All the police have to do is actually POLICE the Island. Put an officer or two on duty in a marked vehicle near the trouble-spot, and the fools will go away! But, like someone here said, maybe the Police are getting payouts from criminal gangs in order to be left alone. I mean, after all, evryones got to earn a living, look after your own and all that.

  30. judyjudy

    WHY IS THIS GANG RULING THE AREA. ARE THE POLICE SO SCARED OF THEM OR IN WITH THEM

  31. Pingback: TripAdvisor on Boscobel Toll Gang: UK tourist says “steer clear of Boscobel unless you want to get mugged!” | Barbados Free Press

  32. BARBADOS TRIPADVISOR.COM

    Reblogged this on Barbados Tripadvisor.

  33. In Defence Of Boscobel.
    My wife and I are from London, we are in our mid/ late 50’s, white Europeans and we had a fantastic 2 week holiday in Barbados in September this year, our first time on the island. I have just read about the Boscobel Toll Gang and it sounds the kind of crime that could turn very nasty very quickly, but can be easily resolved by the police if they are minded to do so. There were many highlights to our stay, but without doubt one of them was a day we spent in Boscobel. We got the bus, changed at Speightstown and went over the island and down the hill into Boscobel. We hung out with some of the the locals, walked all the way down to the spring and cave with some of them and saw the most amazing views of the Atlantic on the way. One of the guys we were with shinned up a palm (amazing to watch) chopped coconuts off a palm and then we drank the juice and ate the flesh (with the owners permission!). We nearly went to a nearby village for a meal in the evening, but unfortunately had to get the bus back as it was getting late. Just before we left we had a few beers from the house of a lady who had lived in Boscobel all her life. She told us how it all used to be and about 7 of us sat around and listened. We met a lot of people that day and without exception they were welcoming in a way that you would just not find in London.
    Thanks to Boscobel and all the people we met that day.

  34. Anon

    We were stopped today. First off a man ran into the road to tell us to turn around the road is out and I told my husband to keep driving as I had read about people saying you had to pay roll
    Money. We then got stopped literally 15 feet around the corner the man ran in front of the car and put his hand on the bonnet. He was pleasant and asked where we were from and took my map to show me where to go. He shook our hands however he had both hands in the car window even though it was not down low. He then said he would jump in the back and show him the way ‘what did we think’. I said no to my husband who told the man we had to get on our way and he stepped back and shrugged and off we went. At the time I felt quite shaken by this however my husband is bigger and stronger looking than any of the men so perhaps that’s why he wasn’t too forceful. Avoid the area and travel on bigger roads where possible it’s not a pleasant experience. He eyes up my camera which fortunately was strapped over my shoulder and also my wedding ring which I have decided not to wear out again whilst here.

  35. Pingback: New TripAdvisor discussion forum – Boscobel Toll Gang still frightening tourists with demands for money | Barbados Free Press