I had not previously heard of the specific incidents of crimes against U.S. citizens listed in yesterday’s advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. The embassy said that "over the past several weeks there has been an increase in the level of crime in areas where U.S. citizens live and frequent." The embassy listed seven recent violent crimes against U.S. citizens:

  • "three armed robberies of U.S. citizens . . . in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas;" 
  • "a U.S. citizen who resides in The Bahamas was kidnapped and violently raped while walking home;" and
  • "three reported sexual assaults on U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet ski operators on Paradise Island."

I read the Nassau Tribune, Nassau Guardian, Bahamas Journal, Bahamas Weekly and Bahamas Press on a daily basis. There is no mention of any of these crimes in the newspapers in Nassau. I find the press in the Bahamas to be transparent. There are a lot of newspapers in New Providence. With a Cruise Port Nassau Bahamaspotential readership of only 250,000, the newspapers compete against one another for the top story. There is no doubt that the press in Nassau would report the crimes against Americans if the Royal Bahamian Police Department (RBPD) released the information to them.

The Nassau Guardian even seemed surprised by the embassy advisory, saying that "there were no reports to the media" that Americans were recent crime victims.

I also read the crime reports in the RBPD web page on a daily basis. There is no mention of these recent crimes in the official on-line crime data-base, even though the criminal offenses are extremely violent (kidnapping, rape, armed robbery and sexual assault of children). 

Is the Bahamian police department in cahoots with tourism and governmental officials to suppress information regarding crimes against tourists?

Certainly, there’s no doubt that admitting that U.S. girls are being sexually assaulted by jet ski operators on Paradise Island is bad for tourism. It’s not the image tourism officials wish to portray. What family would ever travel to Nassau if they knew that perverts were targeting their children and sexually assaulting them on the beach or in the water?

Unfortunately, the police department in Nassau appears to be receiving cues from the tourism officials on what not to disclose to the public. Rather than announcing the crimes committed against tourists and bringing attention to them in order to locate witnesses and demand accountability, the police seem motivated to keep the embarrassing information secret. 

The police in Nassau have been accused of covering up crimes mentioned in previous warnings this year from the U.S. Embassy.  Listen to how one cruise tourist robbed in Nassau several years ago characterized the Bahamian police.

Bahamian Police Superintendent Paul Rolle is sensitive to issues of tourism. He understands the negative effects of crime on tourism. When a U.S. crew member was shot and killed in Nassau last year, Rolle defended his office’s failure to solve the crime saying "We aren’t no play-play cartoon police force." He told the Nassau Guardian that "tourism is our life blood.”

Just last week gunmen pretending to be policemen murdered 44 year-old Andre Cartwright as he tried to defend his elderly parents after the gunmen kicked their front door in. Superintendent Rolle refused to reveal the name of the hotel where the police found one of the gunmen hiding.  He mentioned only Central Police Station Nassau Bahamasthat the suspect was apprehended "in a hotel room over the bridge” and was hiding in a "Paradise Island hotel."  Is it really too potentially distressing to tourists to hear that the murderer might be holed up in a room next to them in a tourist attraction, like Atlantis for example?

The only time a U.S. citizen is mentioned by the police seems to be when they arrest a cruise passenger at the cruise wharf for possession of a small amount of pot. But when a U.S. tourist is jacked up at gunpoint or violently assaulted, no official information is available to the press or the public.

Certainly U.S. tourists are not the only visitors who are being victimized; however, the Bahamian police data-base is completely lacking any crime data when the victims are tourists from Canada, the U.K., Europe, China or South America.  

The Bahamas is in the business of selling an illusion of a tropical paradise to tourists. Unfortunately, the police department appears to be more interested in being a part of the country’s tourism team rather than preventing or solving violent crimes against the country’s guests.   

November 7 2014 Update:  

The New York Times covered the story and quotes Cruise Law News: U.S. Embassy Warns of Crime in Bahamas.

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau picked up this story as well: Blogger: ‘Is There Cover-Up Of Crimes Against Tourists?’ 

Meanwhile the police in Nassau defend themselves. But DNA Leader Branville McCartney said:

“The crime issue is out of hand. You’ve got all sorts of things happening in this country that we don’t even hear about. I don’t want to hear no foolishness from this government or from the police department talking about ‘crime down.’ I’m scared in my own country. The fear of crime is not down. Don’t talk fool around my head about the crime is down, when it isn’t. This crime is out of control and I ask the government to deal with it."

Crime in Nassau Bahamas 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / TampAGS, for AGS Media Creative Commons 3.0; Wikipedia / Ritchie Sieradzki Creative Commons 2.0.

  • John Goldsmith

    Based on reports that I receive from various sites, including External Affairs in Ottawa, Nassau will not be on any cruise, time share or all inclusive vacations that are planned or considered. Just as a cruise to the Middle East is not in our future.

    A little caution and common sense goes a long way to ensure a safe vacation…anywhere.

  • Abagale

    According to all the Bahamian newspapers I’ve been reading, they claim the government and police are covering up all crime against tourist and locals. In an economy that is sinking the Bahamas faster than the Bahamian ship that almost sunk a week ago, they can’t afford a bad reputation, even if your life is at risk. Remember their sells pitch people, ” It’s better in the Bahamas”, yea, for the criminals.

  • E.Rolle

    Why do you think there is so much vigilantism here in da Bahamas, number one reason my friends, no Bahamian trusts da police or da government, period! They are da biggest Mafia in da World, and if you speak against them, they will feed you to da wild pigs so not even da bones are left for DNA!

  • Rgeorge

    Do cruise lines continue to go to Nassau because Atlantis provides some sort of incentive.? If so,, poor judgment. They sure do spend more time in Nassau than Freeport. I personally stay on ship. Cruise lines should spend more time, maybe, their private islands.

  • Erica

    It’s all about money Rgeorge, think about it, if the passengers don’t get off the ship, where do they spend their money, on the ship. Unfortunately the passenger loses a port to see and no money is spent there; the big loser is Nassau. The only money they make is the fee for the ship to dock, it’s a cruise line scam. When the public stops wasting their good hard earned money on 2 ports out of 3 ports cruises, than the cruise companies will change their routes.

  • Neil Koffman

    Wow Mr. Walker, great website “RBPD web page” AKA-www.royalbahamspolice.org- Does every countries police dept. have a web page like this where a person can check for themselves and make their own judgment whether to visit or not. I never knew web pages from the police dept. were available to the public, your web site is dynamite!

  • Rachel

    Wow Im a Bahamian and not pleased with the negative comments like all places we have issues but not to the extent that a few hurts has posted here. Like any where in the world that one can travel, things do happen. We do have some really friendly and welcoming individuals as well as a few that are not so welcoming but it is a must see stop!!

  • Wedding Planner Nassau Bahamas

    Understanding the impact crime has on a fragile Bahamian economy and how easily it is for information to be widely disseminated (like this blog post) I’m sure that government and Police officials are vicariously addressing this vexing problem.

    While one incident of crime is one too many, the Bahamas continues to be a relatively safe place to visit and the persons that we have been privileged to serve have enjoyed their time in the Bahamas.

    Warnings are important but over sensationalizing the situation is not the answer.

  • Justin C.

    It amazes me just how much Mr. Walker seems to dislike the Bahamas as a whole. In not one article over the years has he ever expressed a positive light on these islands. Yes islands. I have visited the Bahamas often, most some of the other small remote islands and they are indeed beautiful and not crime infested as his article says. The Bahamas is made up of many islands I myself learn. Most of which are still very uniquely catering to tourist.

    Yes like many large cities, Nassau which is the capital of the Bahamas is over crowed, filled with immigrants thus rising the crime rate. Any intelligent person would realize these factors contribute to crime no matter the country. It is sad though that this is all cruisers see. Then never really experience all the Bahamas has to offer. But if you only read articles here and not research for yourself, you will find yourself disliking a beautiful country based on the bias of an individual who only read the papers and sites, but has never actually visit.

    The Bahamas is more than just Nassau. If you are looking to truly vacation in tranquillity, try research on visiting the Out Islands of thr Bahamas. There are many to choose from. My favorite is Abaco. Find yours.

  • I have visited the Bahamas (Nassau, Freeport and out islands) since the 1970’s to the present. Wonderful places long ago.

    Jim Walker

  • Joanne R

    Just a quick clarification before my comment. It’s the RBPF (Royal Bahamas Police Force) not RPBD. As for the crime rate and the safety of The Bahamas on the whole. There are far more islands than New Providence (Nassau is the capital city). The FAMILY Islands are truly a tropical paradise and offer much more than just the shopping and casinos of Nassau. If you are truly interested in visiting and seeing a culture different than your own, while enjoying the sun, sand and sea, then I recommend The Exumas, Eleuthera, Cat Island, San Salvadore, The Abacos, and Andros. If you are looking for the excitement of a Casino, then go to Freeport. All of these locations are beautiful and much more safe than Nassau. Even the people who live in Nassau don’t want to be in Nassau!

  • Dorothy

    It’s amazing how the Bahamas has to try to sell itself, we here in the U.S. don’t do that, we leave it up to you to decide. I remember when I was a little girl and my grandfather told me this. He said, “Sweetie, when a sells men is relentless with his product, that’s because the product is not in demand”. Why are the people of the Bahamas always trying to sell me their country?

  • carl hanlon

    Of course they are covering up. As an expat that lives in Bahamas, I can tell you on many occasions that the Bahamian Police, Politicians etc, constantly, regularly and methodically cover up such bad news. The place is a wreck due to crime (as well as corruption). For ANY tourist to come to Bahamas and NOT THINK something could/would happen (petty theft, sexual assault, etc) is sadly mistaken and naive at best. Word of caution to travelers is to travel in “packs”, take reputable taxi and transport companies, NEVER go “over the hill” after 9:00pm and be on the look out.

  • T.Knowlings 35

    Hello Mr. James Walker,

  • Melissa Pratt

    It hurts to read this blog and not so good comments. I am a Bahamian, grow and born on the island of cat island and i love my country. Any where in the world there is crime, the Bahamas is no different. The Bahamas is not Nassau alone. Tourist coming to Nassau, caution yourself. Try another island in the Bahamas if Nassau is too crime infested for you. Tourism is my livelihood, i work in the hospitality industry. Our government needs to take crime seriously, because it is only hurting our country. ‘one bad apple, spoils the whole bunch’.

  • H.Jackson

    Crime in the Bahamas has made The New York Times today I see, and Mr. Walker is mentioned. If our country continues to ignore warnings from such powerful countries like the U.S. and Canada, we will have no tourists coming here at all. With the few who are coming here now, and no one getting off the cruise ships, we are barely keeping this nation afloat. But if powerful newspapers such as The NY Times print the crime rate in our country as our government does nothing, WE ARE DOOMED!

  • Grover

    I agree with you Melissa Pratt, it is a nice region as tourism point of view. I have been visited this state about a year ago with my friends. It is an ideal destination for beach lovers. I found this state due to its awesome beaches and lush natural beauty. We can enjoy a lot of adventures activities there. It also homes to a lot of festivals like; traditional Junkanoo and many others. Bahamas also has a wide range of parks, market streets, historic landmarks, casinos, and beaches.

  • Winston

    Grover, for your information the Bahamas is a country not a state. You also forgot to add, murders once a day, rape capitol of the World, and some of the nastiest attitudes welcoming you, to your list. It is so apparent that you are some type of representative from the Bahamas, are you going to sell me water on a rainy day too?

  • T Allen

    In 2008, my wife and I purchased a timeshare at Atlantis and have visited every year since. We have walked from Atlantis to Fish Fry at night and never suffered harassment, much less a robbery. We have left valuables out in the open of our rooms and nothing has ever been taken. Our perception has been that we feel safer in Nassau than anywhere in Mexico.

    We are going back later this month and are looking forward to it.