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New Hampshire Victim Of Armed Robbery Explains Why He Won’t Be Back: OP-ED

For Katie and me, our trips to the USVI will end. It’s sad, we have been traveling to the Island of St. Croix since June of 2018. We were married there, made many good friends, adventured and we were even thinking of moving there someday. Bottom line we fell in love with the island. Unfortunately, St Croix and the USVIs are not just known for their great weather, aqua blue waters, fishing, diving, and fantastic food. It’s also known for being ranked by the United Nations as one of the most violent places in the world.

In 2018, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that the USVI had the fourth highest murder rate in the world. This year, the territory is now number three. America has a murder rate of 5.30 per 100,000 people. In 2018, the USVI’s territory’s homicide rate was a whopping 52.64. 10 time that of the mainland.

Some islanders and frequent travelers to the islands have tried to convince us in the past that the violence is contained to “intergroup crime” or “gang crime” associated with the drug and illegal firearms trade. Moreover, this phenomenon is only happening in pockets of the 22-mile island and tourists are not targets. Simply stated, this is not true. Crime happens everywhere on the island, is not just relegated to geographic pockets, odd hours of the night, dark alleys and committed by one race. In fact, it happened to my wife and I at 8:30 PM, six feet from our beachfront condo at Coral Princess in a well-lit area of the facility in a residential neighborhood as two assailants approached in a car coming from the Cruzan Princess parking lot.

Yes, crimes happen everywhere but not at the frequency of 10 times that of what we experience in the mainland United States. The island tries to downplay the violence because it’s good business to do so. Tourism is the number one “product” of the island. Katie and I fell into the trap of believing what we were told. We ignored the warning signs, the Trip Advisor reviews, and the facts. As a result, we were assaulted at gunpoint and robbed. Whose fault is this? It is ours 100 percent. Our own ignorance and failure to face all we knew perpetuated this event. We now know firsthand that the marketing of the island’s story is fiction. The KING of all crimes is murder. To think all other violent crimes leading to murder don’t exist or that they are not prevalent and or only relegated to one portion of the population or location on the island is in a word naïve.

We have posted many times about the great food, friends, and adventures we have experienced over the past 4 years. We feel obligated to now tell you the full truth of what we have learned in our several trips. I am not saying don’t visit the islands, I am saying do so knowing the truth and what you could be getting yourself into. Look into all the crime statistics. Robbery, murder, vandalism, other violent crimes, drugs, and aggravated assault with firearms are common. Poverty, lack of opportunity, a failed education system, corrupt and ineffective policing and a leaderless government are to blame. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Many people have an opinion about these issues and they are entitled to those opinions. But people are not entitled to revise the “facts” reports, crime statistics, etc. Take time to review. Again, I recognize that crimes happen everywhere but not at 10 times the frequency. That stated, 50 percent of all crime on the island goes unreported. This is not an island with an all-inclusive option, you are on your own in the USVIs. Be careful in paradise.

—Stephen DePaula Jr., Laconia, New Hampshire

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