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Yesterday morning at 4 a.m. I was woken by sudden call. It was my friend, who lives with her husband on their yacht, anchored in the Portsmouth area. They had just been robbed, almost beaten to death and neither of them knew the number for the police. I am trying to tell her the number, but realize that in her condition she will not be able to make the call – furthermore find a right words in English to explain what had happened to she and her husband.

Fortunately, I was able quickly get in contact with the Portsmouth police station and alert them of the situation. But I started panicking when the officer told me that they were unable go to the yacht and could only look-on from the on shore. During that time, my friends were trapped on their yacht (because their dingy boat was stolen), beaten, and had no way of reaching onshore for help.

While Chris (my boyfriend) was speaking with the police (because I was about to loose my self-control), she called to inform me that the robbers were on the way back to the yacht and that she was scared. The only thing I could do at the moment is just tell that we got the police and they were on their way.

After a few minutes gone by, I called her again… they had found a boat and were heading for the shore. After exchanging few phone calls they finally met up with the police. Her husband speaks who only German, and she who only knows a little bit of English were so traumatized by the whole experience couldn’t even remember the words to say that they were robbed much-less to describe the perpetrators. I briefly described the situation to the policeman and sighed with relief – they were now safe and would receive medical attention.

At the hospital they stitch the scars on her head and gave her anesthesia, because it appears that one of her ribs was broken. Luckily, there was nothing seriously wrong with her husband.

Update: 8 hours later, x-rays confirms that she did suffered a broken rib.

A few hours later, I called her again to check up on their condition and to get a clear understanding on what how exactly happened. She went on to describe to me – that she was suddenly woken by someone putting a shirt over her head and hitting her in the jaw (she said: “I am grateful to the Lord, that none of my teeth didn’t come out!”) and he start to strangle her (“I almost though that I will die”). During the robbery, two of the armed men beat them, while the third man searched the yacht for money and other valuable items.

Despite all what had happened, my friends are very grateful too the police officers and the doctors at the Portsmouth hospital for all the sympathy and assistance they gave to them.

This is the second case a of yacht robbery in Portsmouth where the victims were tied and beaten. The first robbery occurred some time in the middle of May of this year; soon after the Portsmouth police along with some dedicated residents of the area started a community watch/security watch-out, that patrols the area close the Portsmouth beach during the night on small fishing boats. Unfortunately, my friends who heard about the first robbery never took the situation seriously. They went ahead and move their yacht closer to the Indian River, and left the yacht open during the night.

Dominica is consider one of the safer islands in the Caribbean, which trends to make visitors let their guard down from time to time, which makes prime targets for criminals. So please, continuing to take all the necessary precautions that you would take on any other island, and always be aware of your surroundings.

Here are some tips that you might find helpful when sailing to Dominica:

1. Get to know the all emergency numbers, for example:

  • Dominica Police headquarters in Roseau: 448-2222
  • Portsmouth Police station: 445-5222
  • Princess Margaret Hospital: 448 – 2231
  • Portsmouth Hospital: 445-5237
  • Police, Fire, and Ambulance hotline – 999

2. Learn areas where is security patrol for yachts.
3. Padlock or find some an alternative way to secure your dingy boat at nights
4. Close your yacht for the night: don’t leave open doors, windows and etc. This will make it harder for the perpetrators to get in without you knowing.
5. Keep an extra cell phone on the yacht at all times, and learn the emergency (or crisis hotline) phone numbers in the event you’ve to make a call for help.
6. Get a dog – it can alert you in advance about danger.
7. Get something to protect yourself (at least traumatic pistol).

If there is anyone who have more safety tips or ideas on how we can reduce the number of yacht robberies particularly in the Portsmouth area, please share them in the comments below.

Stay Safe….and bye for now!

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The current drive by the Dominica Police force to establish a strong “community policing” component is timely, necessary and promises to yield substantial benefits for the nation.

In the past, communities tended to leave crime fighting almost entirely up to the police, but times have changed. Crime has become more pervasive and sophisticated, requiring a more broad-based response from police and society. It is now imperative that law-abiding residents of each town, village and community become more vigilant and active in the fight against crime and interact more closely with the police.

There is ample evidence of an insidious rise in crime in Dominica. There is a marked increase in violent crime and the emergence of new types of crime; crimes like drug dealing, money laundering and internet scams were unknown in former times. Today’s children are exposed to more crime and violence than any generation in recent memory. It is essential that citizens and police join forces to fight crime on every front, from neighborhoods to homes.

Members of the police force must do everything in their power to encourage citizens to redouble their own efforts to reduce crime in their communities. They must liaise with citizens to establish a culture of judicious discernment of and reporting of crime in each neighborhood, as well as relentless advocacy of community programmes to alleviate social problems that create the breeding grounds for crime.

Citizens must be encouraged to move away from their reliance on the police and government to lead the way in fighting crime. Law-abiding citizens can take responsible actions themselves to prevent increasing crime in society. With appropriate guidance and support from police, they can organise themselves into groups and by their collective efforts make significant headway by establishing new limits on crime in their own communities.

Specifically, law-abiding persons in all neighborhoods can raise their communities’ awareness of potential sources of violence and crime. They can spread the word about these sources and campaign strenuously against them. The primary objective would be to get a community commitment to rooting out crime in all its forms. By banding together and with the support of the police they can detect and prevent crime
in its embryonic stages.

Maximum community policing awareness can be the launching pad for the creation of a crime-free environment for each family in each community. By community policing efforts, families can make their homes safer. They can identify crime sources that are specific to their communities and work collectively to eliminate them. The police can develop a more meaningful rapport with such communities, enabling them to get greater information and intelligence about crime and function more effectively.

Through community policing initiatives, households and communities can become more vigilant against crime by themselves, in a reasonable and balanced manner. By their involvement in community policing, citizens can establish guidelines and mechanisms for effective crime fighting. They can create neighborhood networks to detect and respond to crime. By collective vigilance they can more easily and effectively uncover and deal with crime.

Community policing provides citizens with an excellent opportunity to make a more direct contribution to the fight against crime and it also enhance the capacity of the police to do their work. The public should give community policing their wholehearted and unreserved support.

This article was published in the editorial section of the Chronicle Newspaper – Issue: August 1st, 2008.

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