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Spike In Violent Crimes Forces State Department To Issue ‘Critical’ Travel Warning On The Bahamas

jet ski use

       Jet ski “accident” in the Bahamas

NASSAU – The U.S. State Department has issued a “critical” crime warning on The Bahamas after American tourists have been targeted for rape, kidnapping and murder, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

The State Department charged that Bahamian water sports rentals are “loosely regulated” by the government and that four American women – including at least two minors – have been raped on Paradise Island and Cable Beach by jet ski operators in the last 11 months.

“Police warned women to be extra vigilant after a recent spike in the number of reported sexual assaults in Nassau,” the U.S. State Department wrote on its website. “In October, a U.S. citizen resident was kidnapped and raped.”

The State Department said the Bahamian government itself reported a 2.5% increase in violent crimes in 2014, with 122 murders. There were 119 murders in 2013 and more than 100 murders in the last four years.

”Armed robberies, property theft, purse snatchings and general theft of personal property remain the most common crimes perpetrated against tourists,” the State Department wrote. “Home break-ins, theft, and robbery are not confined to any specific part of The Bahamas.

“The upsurge in criminal activity has also led to incidents that could place innocent bystanders at risk. Criminality on Grand Bahama has increased, notably crimes involving the use of machetes. Many criminals in The Bahamas carry firearms, machetes, or knives. In 2014, there was an increase of reported armed robberies using a knife and gun where the assailant assaulted the victim after the victim fought back and resisted.”

The State Department said that “many of these armed robberies were snatch-and-grabs involving purses, jewelry, and gold necklaces or home invasions.” ”The majority of violent crimes reported were perpetrated against local Bahamians, and these occurred in areas of inundated criminality not typically frequented by tourists,” the State Department wrote. “Nevertheless, despite arduous government anti-crime incentives, during the past several months New Providence has witnessed a significant increase of violent armed crimes in locations heavily patronized by U.S. citizens. In many instances, these incidents have resulted in fatalities.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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