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Jamaica is not the crime ridden, danger lurking around every corner island that it is so often painted to be. Visitors (especially first time visitors) are often warned to not venture off the confines of their resort. To not do so would be to miss out on the chance to really see and experience the wonderful and diverse culture that thrives in Jamaica.
So, what about all those horrifying crime statistics? Fact or fiction? Actually, a little of both. Jamaica does have a problem with gang violence and turf wars that is confined generally to the Kingston area and will have no impact on the average tourist. Reports of violence perpetrated against tourists is actually very low. There are occassional crimes of "opportunity", i.e. petty theft, pickpockets and purse snatchings, but they are few in number and probably occur less frequently than the same things that happen back in the tourist’s homeland on a daily basis.
General safety tips are the same as any savvy traveler would take when visiting a place with which they are unfamiliar. Do not carry large amounts of cash on you; do not go off with "friendly" strangers; don’t flaunt expensive jewelry (better yet, leave the gemstones at home --- you are on vacation after all); don’t wander around alone at night either in the cities of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios or on the beach in Negril. Most importantly, don’t check your common sense right along with your luggage at the airport. Sure, Jamaica is paradise, but if you get drunk and stupid someone, just like in Boston or Omaha, will likely take advantage of the situation. Once you get a feeling for the laid back atmosphere of the island and it’s citizens and take normal travel precautions, you can get on with the best part of any trip to Jamaica --- soaking up the sun, jamming with the music, eating wonderful local foods, and best of all, getting to know some of the wonderful, warm Jamaican people.