Daytime tourist robbery costs us another loyal visitor
I have today read the report of Barry Alleyne concerning the theft of jewellery from visitors and tourists. I believe the problem is far worse than perceived and is being suppressed/under-reported. I am not convinced that the police have any effective crime pattern analysis to know where they should be actively patrolling, advising visitors and undertaking their duty of protection of all people, and especially tourists.
On Friday 1 March 2013, in Bay Street near Harbour Lights, my wife was violently assaulted, injured and robbed of two valuable necklaces, by two young local low-life, cowardly, vile thugs. The police were less than effective in their caring treatment of my wife and their lack of effective evidence gathering left me less than impressed or confident in they had the resources or ability to gather evidence or investigate crime in a meaningful manner.
We have walked this route many times having been advised it was safe to do so. It can no longer currently be regarded as safe for tourists.
The disturbing aspect for Barbadian authorities is that this violent robbery took place in broad daylight, just after nine in the morning, during the rush hour with many witnesses. Some serious questions now need answering by the various Authorities and politicians.
“We have been coming to Barbados for many years since my wife loves the island and climate for her health, and loves the many friends and decent hard-working Bajan people that we have met.”
However, my duty is to protect my wife from unnecessary risk. It had been our intention to return to Barbados year on year for as long as we could afford it and were healthy enough to do it. We were already booked to come next year. I am now intending to cancel this with great sadness and it is likely we will never return. There are many safer places for tourists. I will be advising my extended family accordingly, as well as writing to the many contacts I have within the UK tourism industry including large Cruise companies, the UK police, Foreign Office and others.
This robbery, of course, is my main distress, but there are many other visitors who agree that other serious issues are fast going downhill here and need addressing.
This includes dangerous driving, overnight excessive noise, drunkenness, fighting and high speed early morning motor-cycle and car racing in The Gap and dangerous driving and overloading of ZR buses, even with school children on board! Some road-side traders and beggars have been reported as becoming more aggressive and abusive to tourists who feel threatened to buy or give. It is a sad indictment of a Country when you are advised, belatedly, not to carry anything valuable and but always a little something to hand over! There is crime in all countries but that sort of advice is never necessary in my country.
My impression is that hoteliers, particularly in The Gap, are not being supported as they try to bring the problems to the attention of the authorities. The Sugar and Hal’s Bar (or Hell’s Bar as it is becoming known) need serious bringing to order. How can anyone be serious about drink driving when you have a bar in a car park! These are growing trouble spots. Many tourists are elderly and vulnerable in this area and are no longer safe in The Gap from late evening onwards.
Trinidad and Jamaica are regarded by many UK people as crime risk areas and only go there into all-inclusive guarded properties, which is not much fun if you enjoy walking, meeting and supporting local people in their businesses. Barbados has always been regarded as safe until now but appears, without intervention now, to be moving in the same direction as these larger islands.
The authorities, in particular senior police and Government departments, have been slow to acknowledge the problem or to respond to it with a positive action by joint agencies. It has been well known locally for some time and the initial action should have been to warn, in writing, all visitors arriving at the island ports that the problem exists. The warning should state that jewellery, mobile phones and valuable items should not be carried at any time. Had we been properly warned when we arrived it would have given us a realistic chance to avoid the theft and violent assault on my wife. This was a critical initial action that should have and should still be taken whilst undertake other actions to tackle the issue.
I imagine the holiday industry is vital to Barbados and once lost will be very difficult to retrieve. The decent Barbadian people need the Government to act fast in their interests while they have the chance. The problem has been vividly highlighted. Please protect this lovely island and its people.
We have to deal with the shock and injury suffered but the lost property is replaceable.
What Barbados has lost is far more valuable and irreplaceable.
With great sadness and best wishes,
(Name provided but withheld by BFP editor)
Note: The above was also sent to the Nation and the Barbados Advocate but so far they have not published it.