US paints a bad picture on crime in T&T

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As Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley leaves Monday for a meeting with United States Vice-President Joe Biden, the US Department of State has warned that violent crime “remains high” in T&T.

In a travel update on Sunday, the State Department said the high crime rate “affects local and expatriate communities, as well as tourists.

“You should exercise caution and good judgment,” the State Department warned.

“Be particularly cautious when traveling after dark from Trinidad’s Piarco Airport as incidents have been reported in the past involving armed robbers trailing arriving passengers from the airport and accosting them in remote areas of the airport parking lot, on the highway leading from the airport to downtown Port-of-Spain and outside the gates of residences.”

The department said areas in the Port-of-Spain metro area that should be avoided include Laventille, Morvant, Sea Lots, Beetham, the interior of the Queen’s Park Savannah, South Belmont and Cocorite.

Areas to be avoided by visitors after dark include scenic rest stops and public parks, including Fort George, downtown Port-of- Spain, the interior and perimeter of Queen’s Park Savannah and all beaches, the statement said.

It said tourists are particularly vulnerable to pick-pocketing and armed assaults in these locations, adding that holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often see an increase in criminal activity.

The State Department said violent crimes, including assault, kidnapping for ransom, sexual assault and murder, have involved expatriate residents and tourists, including US citizens.

“The perpetrators of many of these crimes have not been arrested,” it said. “It is highly recommended that female visitors and residents avoid traveling alone, particularly at night or in secluded areas.”

The Department said burglaries of private residences are common, with robbery a risk, particularly in urban areas and especially near ATMs and shopping malls.

“You should avoid wearing expensive jewelry, riding in flashy cars, or displaying large amounts of money in public,” it said. In some cases, robberies of Americans have turned violent and resulted in injuries after the victim resisted handing over valuables.

“When riding in a vehicle, always be sure to have your windows up and doors locked,” it added.

“On more than one occasion, US citizens have been approached in their vehicles by people attempting to attain rides to nearby areas despite the short, walkable distance and availability of public transportation. It is highly advisable to avoid offering rides to people you do not know.”

In Trinidad’s sister island, Tobago, the State Department said “violent crime is an issue, including attacks on expatriate residents and tourists in their residences, many of which involve the use of machetes.”

The State Department said there have been reports of home invasions in the Mt Irvine/Buccoo Bay and Bacolet areas, and robberies occurring at the waterfalls and on isolated beaches in Tobago, where visitors are not in a group.

“If you rent a villa or private home, the embassy urges you to ensure adequate, 24-hour security measures are in place,” the statement said.

“Visitors residing at these facilities have encountered intruders in the middle of the night who entered their rented private residences with copied sets of the actual keys.”

The State Department also warned Americans to “be cautious when visiting isolated beaches or scenic overlooks where robberies can occur.”

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