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Personal safety and police presence?

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Springfield...
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Personal safety and police presence?

Our family of five will be making our first trip to Vieques later this summer. I have to admit that I'm somewhat unnerved with the recent spate of violence on this small island as I read there have been perhaps nine murders so far this year. I also understand the violence to be narco-related and the most likely brush with crime for visitors is petty theft. We won't be flashing cash or jewelry. We will leave our vehicle unlocked and empty at the beach and locked, but empty when in town. We don't plan to stay out late (such as it is) drinking.

We are spending a few nights before and after our trip in Old San Juan and will keep our guard up as well. We've traveled to Mexico many times and to St. John as well and haven't had any problems. My questions for this forum are:

What is the local police presence like?

Is it advisable for the wife and daughter to stay at the villa while the boys and I go on an excursion?

Do villa break-ins take place and does everyone put all valuables (cash, travel docs, etc.) in a safe? Are they generally secure?

What are the do-not-dos recommended by readers of this board?

Again, not freaking out by any means as we are really looking forward to this trip but any responses are welcome.

Mackinac Island...
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1. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

Hi John, I am glad to hear that you have done some research on the area and that you are aware of some easy ways to avoid issues - ex. locking/not locking your car.

I have traveled several times to both Old San Juan and Vieques, both on my own and with a group, and have not had any issues. To address your specific concerns:

- There was a much more visible police presence in OSJ than in Vieques. The exception being Holy Week, when it seemed like there were police EVERYWHERE. That being said, you will see police in Vieques, mainly driving around.

- There should be no issue with your wife/daughter staying alone at the villa while you go on an excursion. Regardless of who is there, make sure you lock up well when you go to bed or leave the house empty and you should be fine. Valuables in a safe will be safe. I generally just make sure they are out of sight when I leave the rental, again locking up as instructed by the house manager.

Other precautions I take include:

- When I am alone on the beach I don't nap (a favorite beach activity), so if I am travelling alone, or my companions are off snorkelling, I forego this pleasure. I've never seen anyone in the bushes or had any issues, but I figure sleeping on the beach would make me a really easy target.

- At the beach I keep my license, cash, and keys in a small OtterBag, or other waterproof bag that I can tuck into my suit or hook on a strap. This way I can keep them on me in case something is taken while I am swimming.

- I am sure you know this already, but if an area looks questionable, or makes you uncomfortable, stay away. And since most of the violence is drug-related, it is easy to keep your distance.

NYC
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2. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

Hi

Milady gives good advice.

I think though, if there is nothing valuable in the car, leave it unlocked in town also. The ladies should find something to do while you are out on an excursion. they don't want to go too? or do their own excursion? Why not let them drop you off and they can go to the beach, or do some exploring? Or is it an evening excursion?

As stated, don't leave a computer, tablet, jewelry, or cash in sight in the house.

If you don't need it, don't bring it. like jewelry or laptops.

The police presence on the island has increased recently. but that may change by the time you get there.

home
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3. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

My sister and I are both women in our 60s and we spent 5 wonderful days on the island last month. The house rental was a 5 minute walk to the malecon. We walked to the restaurants/bars every night and never felt insecure at all. Also, we were frequently the only people on the beaches and that didn't bother us, either. You just use a little common sense, don't bring anything of great value with you (why would you need it, anyway?) to the beach, We left one of our phones, credit cards, cash, etc, in the safe at the house. While on the beaches, we left the car unlocked. We did want to have a phone with us at all times so we purchased a small watertight bag which was great for taking the phone with us while swimming and snorkeling. The only thing that was "stolen" was our lunch that a mongoose snatched as we watched from the surf! Relax and enjoy!

Indiana
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4. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

Break-ins happen on Vieques, as they do most anywhere. I little common sense goes a very long way. First, don't take a lot of valuables with you, your there to see sand and sun. I blog extensively when I visit and hence I have a few electronics. I usually hide them in the rental along with cash and other things like:

A second phone

second Credit Cards

Passports.

Criminals are opportunistic, just like they would be in Miami. Take $20 or $40 to the beach. If there's a problem then no big deal, it is what it is. Just because it's Vieques doesn't mean that human nature is any different.

With that said, I've been going to Vieques for a few years now, twice a year, and we've not had ANY problems. The people of Vieques are caring and much more real than so many of the peoples in the states. I tip my hat to them.

Just don't be totally naïve that you've arrived in Eden (even though it may seem so on the outside) and things will be fine.

:-)

Worcester...
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5. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

I thought the OP was asking if the ladies SHOULD stay at the rental, instead of going out....but I could be completely wrong too! Either way, the ladies should be fine at the rental alone, out with you, or out on their own. This is keeping in mind, everyone uses their common sense of course! I will say, from a safety perception, I feel much safer in Vieques than I do in Old San Juan, and the majority of Puerto Rico as well. Now, that doesn't mean there is necessarily less risk as I am not familiar enough with actual crime stats to say, but I feel safer...maybe it's just the relaxed vibe. The largest 'police' presence we have seen is by federal marshals in the reserve in addition to their presence at patronales(annual festival). Local police, on local duty, we say very few of. My recommendation would be to use the same common sense you have traveling in the past, and limit driving too much at night before you are acquainted with the roads. You have a higher risk of a car incident, than you probably do a theft incident!

Edited: 11 June 2013, 22:29
NYC
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6. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

lol

I think that line about the ladies staying at home is having fun with us. Originally I thought that the op wanted the women to stay at home because he was afraid something would happen to them on the excursion. I read it as a bit sexist. then I read miladys post and I thought you had it right and I thought it would be a shame for the women to stay home because they didn't have another car or want to do the excursion, so I wrote what I wrote. then a friend commented that they thought my post made it seem like I thought the women would not be safe at home alone and I was suggesting they don't stay home because of the lack of safety. all very confusing. but I wasn;t thinking that at all. I just thought it would be a waste if the excursion was during the day and the women stayed home and did nothing. unless that's what they wanted. but they wouldn't know that until the day of anyway. then I read amailias post and had to laugh because of the different interpretations.though her advice is good too.

Hey John V, what did you mean?

Springfield...
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7. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

Sorry I wasn't more clear. Really two issues: will Mom and daughter be ok at villa during the day while the boys go on a boating excursion? Also, are nighttime villa break-ins common when occupants are out dining, etc. Everyone will do the bio bay tour.

NYC
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8. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

keeping in mind that ANYTHING can heppen at any time, and answers are what you can reasonably expect:

"will Mom and daughter be ok at villa during the day while the boys go on a boating excursion?"

yes. they should be fine. but again, why would they stay at the rental when they can be out and about?

"nighttime villa break-ins common when occupants are out dining"

common? not really. likely? no. possible? yes.

It seems the break ins can happen at any time. morning noon and night.

usa
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9. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

I feel safer in Vieques than I do anywhere in Mexico.

Berne, Indiana
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10. Re: Personal safety and police presence?

I would agree about being safer here than in Mexico. The state/federal police are very visable here right now, we see them everywhere. Just use common sence & have a great time