The criminal threat level for New Providence Island is rated as critical by the Department of State. New Providence Island has experienced a spike in crime that has adversely affected the traveling public, with a spate of more violent criminal activity between 2009 and 2012. The U.S. Embassy has received multiple reports indicating tourists have been robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint in tourist locations in the downtown areas of Nassau, to include the cruise ship docks and the Cable Beach commerce areas; several of these incidents occurred during daylight hours. Burglaries, larcenies and “snatch-and-grab” crimes happen in Nassau and U.S. citizens have been victims of these crimes as well. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships. The Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape in the Caribbean according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime, violence, and development trends. The majority of sexual assaults reported occurred after excessive consumption of alcohol. The loss of ability to remember facts and details due to alcohol consumption makes prosecution of sexual assaults more difficult. Much of the violent crime occurs outside tourist spots, such as in the “over-the-hill” section of Nassau (the area inland from Bay Street, to the South of Bay Street, behind the tourist district), but can occur anywhere, including in areas frequented by tourists. Home break-ins, theft, and robbery are not confined to any specific part of the island.
The upsurge in criminal activity has also led to incidents which, while not directed at tourists, could place innocent bystanders at risk.
Armed robbery remains a major criminal threat facing U.S. citizens in The Bahamas. The Royal Bahamas Police Force issued a message citing concerns about the increased number of armed robberies in Nassau. AU.S. citizen was fatally shot in Nassau in May 2013 during an armed robbery. Between January 1, 2013 and April 15, 2013, there were 328 armed robberies, 111 robberies, and 660 house break-ins, according to statistics available on the Royal Bahamas Police Force website.
Criminal activity in the outlying family islands does occur, but to a much lesser degree than on New Providence Island. The Embassy has received reports of burglaries and thefts, especially thefts of boats and/or outboard motors on Abaco and Bimini.
The Embassy has received no reports of harassment or hate crimes motivated by race, religion, or citizenship. Visitors have reported harassment of persons based on sexual orientation; some women have reported verbal harassment and unwanted attention. Some organized criminal activity is believed to occur in The Bahamas, primarily related to illegal importation and smuggling of illicit drugs or human trafficking. The Bahamas, due to its numerous uninhabited islands and cays, has historically been favored by smugglers and pirates. As a tourist, you would typically not have noticeable interaction with organized crime elements; however, those operating their own water or air vessels should be alert to the possibility of encountering similar crafts operated by smugglers engaged in illicit activities on the open seas or in air space near The Bahamas.
You are advised to report crime to the Royal Bahamian Police Force as quickly as possible. Early reports frequently improve the likelihood of identifying and apprehending suspected perpetrators. In general, the Royal Bahamian Police Force is responsive to reports of crime and takes the threat of crime against tourists very seriously. However, the police response is sometimes slowed by a lack of resources or by physical constraints imposed by geography and infrastructure.
There is nobody better at protecting you than yourself. Beware of your surroundings at all times. The U.S. Embassy reports that victims of crime are often those who have let their guard down to individuals who appeared overly friendly or became victims after criminals targeted them as easy prey due to the visitor appearing excessively drunk or unaware. Take some time before travel to improve your personal security—things are not the same everywhere as they are in the United States.
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