TripAdvisor on Boscobel Toll Gang: UK tourist says “steer clear of Boscobel unless you want to get mugged!”

“The road is closed. I need ten dollars.”

“HARASSMENT OF VISITORS from drug pushers, prostitutes and vendors is threatening the local tourism industry, says Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA) president Patricia Affonso-Dass…”

… from The Nation article: Threat to tourism

Ms. Affonso-Dass is correct: tourists are increasingly aware of and sensitive to safety issues. Barbados is still one of the safest Caribbean vacation destinations, and is way safer than the Bahamas, Belize, St. Lucia and a host of other nations…


We haven’t been paying enough attention to an increase in violent crime and crimes against tourists. We can’t stop tourists from talking on the internet about their bad experiences – but we can focus the entire might of the law on a few bad apples who are destroying our international reputation. The Boscobel Toll Gang has been operating for at least seven years. Isn’t that long enough?

The question is: Why haven’t the police taken care of the Boscobel Toll Gang years ago? Why don’t they maintain this as a priority?

This is no longer a problem with a few thugs in Boscobel. This is a management problem with the Royal Barbados Police Force. Period.

TripAdvisor: Barbados Boscobel Toll Gang

Boscobel Toll Gang

by wintersun2010

Just a word of warning to anyone planning to hire a car and drive themselves around the island…

Just got back from an amazing trip to Barbados. The only negative part was that we ran into the Boscobel toll gang.

Reading some of the accounts I have read online, I think we got off pretty lightly, but it was still a pretty scary experience.

We had driven up from Bathsheba and were trying to find Cherry Hill Point. We ended up driving into Boscobel and before we knew it, there were two guys jumping out in front of the car yelling ‘road closed’ and ‘bridge out’. We kept going, and round the next bend, an older guy jumped out in from of us forcing us to stop. We were in a Moke and felt pretty vulnerable.

Thanks to posts I had previously read on Trip Advisor, we had a pretty good idea of what we were in for. Despite being mightily fed up about it, we played along, expressed gratitude for the ‘useful’ information and directions we were given, and then of course we were asked for money. The guy asked for ‘two greens’ but seemed happy enough when I told him I only had one. He was then all smiles and waved us on our way.

We were fine, but it is still a pretty scary experience and although I will definitely return to Barbados, I would never return to that part of the island until I was sure that the police have dealt with these crooks.

Guys, steer clear of Boscobel unless you want to get mugged!


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

27 responses to “TripAdvisor on Boscobel Toll Gang: UK tourist says “steer clear of Boscobel unless you want to get mugged!”

  1. NYC/BGI

    What a pity that the so called police cannot solve the problem. Reason is that the PM cannot and did not pay attention and does not care to protect the cash cow tourism. The police needs to be trained off the island from the police chief on down on how to run a law enforcement organization. once that happens the problem will be solved, bottom line the police is not capable because they are not up on 2011 law enforcement technology,

  2. Adrian Loveridge

    But we know that the BTA and authorities don’t take any notice of TripAdvisor. Barbados must be the ONLY destination on the planet that has not used the many TripAdvisor awards won by our hotels and tourism partners to leverage positive global media coverage.
    Only today, TripAdvisor announced that they generate GBPounds 1.7 BILLION in travel spending in the UK alone each year.
    GBPounds 1.7b = BDS$5.27 BILLION

  3. Anon

    Decades ago – when targeting Hired Cars was an issue in urban areas of the US, the government took action to STOP making the cars identifiable as TOURIST based on the license plates. The Hired Car companies also took steps to blend the cars into the road-scape by removing Company Decals and such. It was a 2 part effort.

    The Government of Barbados needs to IMMEDIATELY STOP issuing new H plates and to IMMEDIATELY replace the existing H plates. If the Hired Cars cannot be blended into the current numbering scheme for other than Taxis, then a complete new system of plate numbering needs to be implemented ASAP.

    Obviously, policing of the current problem area is ALSO needed along with arrests.

    Barbados is dependent on the Tourist industry and the GOVERNMENT needs to stop PAINTING a GIANT Bullseye on every Tourist vehicle. This is basic common sense… that applies everywhere on BB.

    Look at this from the perspective of A Tourist planning a vacation.

    Which sounds better for the same total cost?
    Book into a resort on Barbados, hire a car for a week, drive on the opposite side of the road if you are US or Canadian, and risk getting accosted by Road Bandits —or— go on a luxury cruise that even has BEACHES on board and experience Barbados from the ship?

    Go back and REREAD this:

    If the Road Bandit situation is not corrected for the entire island by changing the H plates and enforcing the laws, it will be one more specific item that causes tourists to VOTE with their wallets for a Cruise PAST Barbados rather than a vacation ON Barbados. Every one of those VOTES to Cruise PAST is another nail in the coffin for the BB economy.

  4. Jrjrjrjr

    Why can’t the olive go here in a moke and arrest these thugs

  5. Jrjrjrjr

    Why can’t this infamous route be marked on all the tourist maps as a place to avoid. Where exactly is it anyway

  6. countryview

    why not load up, put a bounty on their heads, declare open season, rent mokes and go hunting in Boscobel?

  7. Robert shiels

    When a few wicked people are allowed to roam Barbados and and intercept tourists it shows that the Police are losing the fight against the criminals. If the people at the top spent more time supporting the police and less time picking out there new ride at warrens then just maybee things can be turned around.

  8. Green Monkey

    Didn’t the beatified and beloved St.Tompy of St. John declare the Boscobel hoodlum/extortionist problem was no longer an issue? Cheese on bread, if you can’t trust a saint to level with you, who can you trust?

  9. 155

    Sad but true…..we have lost control. My mother in law lives in Sunset Crest, in St. James. Her house is 29 secounds from holetown police station. She has been suffering with about 6 vagrants patroling the streets at all hours. They jump her fence to steal mangoes and pears ever day and night. She has called the police I have called the police and they can not help. I am told that she must call when they are in the yard and the police will come…..big joke !!! The police came 40 minutes later I showed them the guy pushing a shopping cart down the street they said they will talk to him. He came back to my mother in laws house the next morning and told her that he will kick down the door and rape her….
    She is so affrair that she has told me not to go to the police any more because she does not want any more problems….
    She has told me that the two houses behind her are rental properties and they suffer the same problems. They left today and told her that they will not return to Barbados for this reason….WOW !!
    Can anyone help ???

  10. Green Monkey

    @ Anonymous

    I also know of an elderly lady who is troubled by men coming in her back yard at will to steal the mangoes off of her tree. She has also been cussed out in a very graphic manner and told to get back inside by the thieves when she came out and confronted them and asked then to leave her property. The cops have been called and came to the house but seemed to lose interest in pursuing the matter further when she replied in the negative to their query as to if these interlopers had actually harmed her or threatened to inflict bodily harm. That they had cussed her out, were trespassing on her property to steal her mangoes and intimidating her (a senior citizen) by their uninvited presence on her property was apparently not sufficient reason to warrant any further action on the part of the RBPF.

    The same men have come back since then on several occasions to check over the tree and see if there were any more mangoes to pick. The lady, like your MIL, decided that as long as all they took was mangoes, to avoid trouble and quite possibly harm to herself she would just have to live with the situation and not make a fuss.

    Such is everyday life in “beautiful” Barbados.

  11. countryview

    Funnily enough, I have not heard of one intruder who was shot while trespassing and stealing on private property returning to that property. I wonder if there’s a lasting point here?

  12. The Watcher!

    I’d like to think that this is a problem period. Tourism or otherwise, armed gangs extorting monies from anyone is UN-acceptable. Work is plentiful if you want to create some for yourself. There is a culture of pervasiveness and a belief that if I don’t get what I want in life, I can take yours!
    The police cant appropriately deal with this matter as their leadership likes to deflect attention from anything that puts them in a bad light.
    Barbados is way too small for this to be happening an no one knows who’s doing it.
    Solve it!

  13. BA88/98

    So right BFP, this is a RBPF management problem, not a problem with the thugs.

    When it appears on Tripadvisor it is a national crisis. Police is useless.

  14. 155

    Update on war in sunset crest.
    We have formed a army to defent ourselves. The police station is full of police and is only 30 secounds away from the problem but they can not help us from the constant attack of vagrants in Sunset Crest. We are armed and we are going to defend our neighbourhood !!!
    Dottin can you hear us now ???

  15. countryview

    Shooting criminals is a GOOD thing.

  16. smackset

    I wonder if Oprah will meet up with the toll gang? Wouldn’t that be something! Hopefully the police will clear out this nest of vipers before Oprah’s staff run into them!

  17. repeat visitor

    all these comments ring a bell with me. the police definitely need to respond more to complaints…what about that woman who was raped near sunset crest last year? and i would like to add that it’s not just in boscobel that you can get hassled for “tolls”- also in st. joseph and at the flower forest in st. lucy. the result is we never slow down for anyone anywhere and avoid those places. having had a robbery of our own two years ago we’re now super cautious. one more bad incident and i can see we’d probably take a break from barbados…

  18. Adrian Loveridge

    75 million reviews and some people think you can ignore TripAdvisor.
    Up to 3.5 million watch Ophrah’ s show but ratings have fallen dramatically recently.

  19. Moneybrain

    I went driving in Boscobel recently and yes when I slowed at a fork in the road i was the recipient of geographical advice and then a demand for money to which I proffered career advice ie get a job, and when he insisted I explained what my V6 could accomplish physiologically to the detriment of his health. Always communicate in a shared language!

  20. victor

    It’s just so typical of Barbados that this Boscobel stuff continues, year after year. Blabbing on about tourism being the key to economic survival, spending on advertising the product yet not addressing the quality and integrity of the product itself. The whole situation is a perfect example of a rubbish business plan. “We have lovely beaches and charming people!” By which is meant all-inclusive hotels, a ruination of the coastline, getting robbed by thugs and a vampirish attitude towards all tourists. Again I raise the spectre of the golden goose’s egg, hovering close to that of the Dodo’s. The police have such a lackadaisical attitude to tourist complaints it makes me think of the attitude of the thieves who are very keen to find out what date the visitor is leaving so that they can rob them the night before, thereby avoiding prosecution, since the visitor has to get their flight the next evening. The very fact that this is a well-known tactic speaks volumes. The whole thing is getting very third world and it makes me sick.

  21. Anderson

    UK tourist says “steer clear of Boscobel unless you want to get mugged!”

    It doesn’t matter how you look at it…”we” in the caribbean might be thought of as “natives” …refering to the stigma associated with that remark i’ll try to expound as best I can. This may piss a few people off…but thats ok!!!. Some Visitors and Guest may still have a “Class Mentality” structure in their head and might apt to only associate or mingle with members of the same Race or Creed …We all know Racism still exist but is practiced in a clandestine form. As not to get caught up in that Ceremony and to add credence to the aforementioned point …Sandy Lane and many other gated communities (not to single out Sandy Lane) provide havens that invite visitors and Guest to relax and have a good time with out having to be bothered by the “natives” and the ills and groans of a developing country. This is expected and warranted . Asking this Question…?..would you want to be bothered by a “local” or anyone for that matter selling/promoting or offering something that you really don’t care for at that present moment! if you were in “their shoes” as a Visitor or Guest on your trip or vacation ….I would think NOT!!! after working hard at your job in whatever country you just arrived from looking forward to savouring some alone or un-wind time, ….or would you rather experience being catered to and pampered and made to feel special so that you can un-wind, relax and soak up some sun in solitude,….well that’s what our Gated Communities (Sandy Lane) are offering. Now having that in mind do we as Barbadians consider this and and keep this as forethought in our minds when we are conduting business and providing services to our Visitors and Guest. It may sound like kissing up (kissing ass) but guess what…. where do you think most of our Guest and Visitors end up staying because of our ineffectiveness as to providing services and hospitality as an “entire Nation” …knowing full well that our lively hood is based very much on this market..???
    They favour our Gated communities and semi private beaches…of course!!!
    So when behaviour as such by the …Boscobel Toll Gang and vagrants who practice this behaviour that is not checked and halted and left to infiltrate our communities this affects our very own lively hood…
    Our Visitors and Guest will look elsewhere and deem it unfit to venture “out alone” to visit the many natural resources we have and not feel safe in an island that anyone should be able to wander and enjoy and not be afraid.
    Wake up!!! please stop the sillyness …lets provide Service and Hospitality like we never did before….lets put Barbados on the map for Hospitality and Service…Lets make it easier for our Guest to come to Barbados…in whatever avenues that will allow this ….subsides ..weekend specials… giving breaks to Hotels and Guesthouses that need Merchandise to accommodate our Guest…planning events that will attract more attention…not just for the Gated Communities but across the whole Island and the Caribbean.
    Lets make those Visitors and Guest beg the Aircraft Captain of whatever flight …to turn the Plane around …because…..they don”t want to leave!!!
    Go Barbados!

  22. 197

    Well said Anderson. We are blind to what really produces the little cash flowing around this island of ours.

  23. Barbadosbelle

    We love Barbados and come for a month annually but ….

    The recent rise in crime and the hiding of it by the RBPF is making us think closely about returning to your lovely island. In fact 6th January coming, for the first time we are using the month to cruise to the Caribbean out of Southampton when we will visit many islands. We are with a group of three families – totalling 20 people and we usually spend something over $250k on the island during the month of January (accommodation villas/hotels; hire cars; shopping; meals out etc etc etc) but this year the island’s coffers will probably only gain by a couple of hundred $s as we are only on Barbados for the day. And we know that we aren’t the only ones who have decided on a change because of poor publicity and TripAdvisor reports. Shame.

    The present rape case is one that is causing great interest here in the UK – in fact just today our biggest selling daily newspaper has two full pages reporting about it. Two ladies BOTH insist that the person the Police arrested nearly two years ago is not the person who raped them. And yet …. the Police still continue with his trial instead of concentrating on finding the real rapist. Do the Police really know who this is but for reasons that the general public don’t know would rather let him go free?? That’s how it would appear to outsiders.

    Read –

    Believe me, the RBPF’s attempts to sweep things under the carpet is NOT going to work and, in fact, is doing untold damage to the island’s respectability.

    It needs to be sorted – and fast. Or Barbados will be one island to be avoided like Jamaica. Trinidad and the DR.

    First-Class island OR Third-World Island – someone will have to decide.


  24. Rastaman

    @Barbados belle.: I think it has already been decided.THIRD WORLD ISLAND.

  25. Pingback: Crimes against tourists “Economic terrorism” but Barbados Bar Association says that’s not as important as everyone being shot in an equal manner | Barbados Free Press

  26. the problem is, when the police are not parked out socialising in the govern ment jeeps, they are in the rum bars.I mentioned this problem to the locaj MP lets see if it takes 5 years like always for some action.

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