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Island’s criminals targeting tourists

Burglaries, including those at tourist properties, have been on the rise in recent months, police revealed yesterday.

Statistics covering 2011 show that they rose during each quarter of last year.

However, the general trend over the past five years is steadily downwards.

There were 625 break-ins in the first three months of last year, 716 in the three months after that, 709 in the third quarter and 811 in the final quarter.

However, the total figure for the year of 2,861 break-ins was three less than the year below, and significantly less than in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, all of which registered more than 3,500 per year.

Break-ins at tourist accommodations totaled 26 last year compared to just 18 the year before. However, the police figures show there were no arrests relating to tourist property break-ins during the whole of last year.

A total of 701 homes were burgled last year compared to 553 the year before, and there were 118 arrests.

However there were fewer break-ins at commercial properties; 129 last year compared to 208 the year before. There were 27 arrests relating to those.

Commenting on the figures, Shadow Minister of Tourism Shawn Crockwell said: “Obviously it’s a concern for everybody that tourists must feel safe while they are here.

“If there’s a trend showing that there’s an increase in burglaries against our tourists that’s a cause for concern. That, I’m sure we would all agree, we need to address. No matter what we do in terms of marketing and providing entertainment and the like, if we can’t promote our jurisdiction as a safe jurisdiction and tourists start to learn it’s not safe, that will be a deterrent for them to come.”

A statement issued last night on behalf of Minister of Tourism Wayne Furbert said: “The Ministry is always concerned about any negative actions against our visitors and is constantly looking at ways to improve on safety and security. The Department of Tourism met with hoteliers about implementing security programmes as well as creating a hotel network to heighten security at their properties. Additionally, the hotel licensing requirement includes a security component and criteria.”

Martha Dismont of the Family Centre said she would be interested to find out whether those committing the burglaries are career criminals or first-time offenders.

She said while she suspects most were perpetrated by people with a history of such crimes, it is not impossible that some may have been carried out by people struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table.

“There are many desperate families out there,” she observed. “Obviously we would not necessarily be in a position to talk to those who go to the ‘dark side’ to survive, but I would not put it past some families to say ‘I am desperate and I need to find a way to survive’.”

Meanwhile, the police advised people to “remain vigilant” following a number of burglaries reported throughout the Island recently.

“The public is encouraged to make sure all windows and doors are locked before leaving their homes unattended, even for short periods of time,” said a spokesman.

“In addition, the public is reminded to secure their cars by locking all doors and windows before leaving their vehicles unattended. We also continue to recommend that all residents secure their valuables out of sight, record serial numbers of all items and take pictures of their possessions. In particular, make note of electronic equipment and jewellery, so that if they are stolen and later recovered, there is an accurate way of identifying them.”

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Published February 22, 2012 at 8:48 am (Updated February 22, 2012 at 8:48 am)

Island’s criminals targeting tourists

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