The CSSN annual report for 2020 provides details and analysis of reported yacht crimes in the Caribbean for 2020. The Covid backdrop is evident in all aspects of our data and presented information, and similar to land crimes in many jurisdictions for the same period the trend line is noticeably down. Closed borders, lock-down/stay-at-home and curfew orders have now limited and changed our cruising and social behaviors, as well as the activity of those who might victimize cruisers. Total reported crimes against yachts dropped to a level not seen for many years, since 2013. Violent crimes in number and proportion dropped even more significantly.
CSSN encourages and enables reporting of crimes against yachts. The information that CSSN publishes is sourced from vetted firsthand reports made by victims and those in our community who make reports. Volunteers work hard behind the scenes to vet and publish our fact based reports, while maintaining everyone’s privacy and improving the tools and information available to users on our website, safetyandsecuritynet.org. The published incident reports and supporting website tools like the very popular Zoom-Tap, Know & Go interactive maps feature, enhanced in 2020, help inform our community about potential risks. Subscriptions to our (FREE) Alerts continue to increase significantly as do followers on social media.
We continue in our valued partnerships with Noonsite, where you find selected CSSN reports, the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA), and Boatwatch. The daily KPK HF net (SSB 8104 12:15 UTC) operates 365 days/year, and its associated website/social media has grown in participation and its reach. Each of us has made important improvements to our offerings in 2020 and working together in complimentary ways, we each bring even stronger value and broader benefits utilizing the best information available to our cruising community.
Locations of Incidents 2020
As described above, 2020 saw a significant decrease in total reported incidents, reversing a multi year upward trend. Incidents declined almost 50% from 140 to 72. Violent incidents declined even more, down 79% from 14 to 3. Reported incidents clustered in locations that made arrival easy or inexpensive. Five (5) countries,(Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – SVG, Martinique, the Dominican Republic, Curacao and Grenada), up from the more typical 3 or 4, make up the majority of reported incidents in 2020. We will discuss each of these countries later in this report.
Total reported incidents by year
Several factors likely combined to drive this decrease. There were noticeably fewer yachts overall, as many departed for other regions when uncertainty about Covid and lock downs began to happen as hurricane season approached. Yachts that remained became much more stationary as Covid protocols and testing were implemented in a patchwork fashion throughout the region. Those remaining spent more time onboard and became more vigilant and aware of others movement. All serving to limit access and mitigate risk from those with criminal intent by reducing opportunity, especially against the most common targets, dinghies/outboards. Intrusion alarms have become more affordable and more common, and are now utilized on many cruising yachts. While dinghies/outboards remain a primary target for thieves, cruisers have upgraded elements of their dinghy security, and thieves have also upgraded their tools and methods. Theft remains largely a crime of opportunity with too many dinghies left poorly secured with simple padlocks and cable. Even lifted dinghies are within the reach of determined thieves, making lifting AND secure locking the best practice.
Violent Crime and Non Violent Crime 2015-2020
After a significant increase in 2019, 2020 had the lowest level of violent crime in recent measured history, dropping not only in absolute terms but also as a proportion of the total as well, with a total of 3 reports. A very welcomed change. One (1) violent report was made from each of Colombia (assault), St. Lucia (assault) and near-offshore Dominica (attempted piracy).
Typically 3 or 4 countries make up the majority of reported incidents, but 2020 was different in this regard as well. Five (5) countries combine for about 50% of all incidents – but in a somewhat different mix. SVG, a regular member of this group again tops the list (15), Martinique makes its second appearance (7), the Dominican Republic (6), is new to the list, Curacao (5) which is also new to this list, and Grenada which returns but down from the highs of 2019 with (5).
While no detail incident reports are presented here, use the popular Zoom-Tap, Know & Go feature on the CSSN website to review the detailed incident reports from these (or any) location easily.
SVG – A regular member of the top group had no violent incidents in 2020, and did decrease 29% from 21 reported incidents in 2019 to 15 for 2020. Incidents were spread across this multi island nation but not surprisingly concentrated in the only port of entry/quarantine area on the main island in the Blue Lagoon/Young Island Cut area (9), with Bequia and Union adding (3) reports each.
Martinique – Makes its second appearance in the top group this year. Reported incidents decreased by about 60% from 2019 levels from 17 to 7, none were violent, and they were broadly distributed around the island. Again this year, CSSN would like to express our special thanks to those who have helped increase the participation of the French cruising community, helping to better inform the larger cruising community.
Dominican Republic – Makes its first appearance in this group, although those who have been in the region will recognize that cruisers in Luperon (where all 6 reports originated) have experienced similar problems of burglary and theft at lower levels there in the past (2016 – 2018). While the incidents all occurred in the first half of the year, no reports of successful investigations, return of property or charges/arrests have been made.
Curacao – Curacao makes its first appearance in this group with 5 reports, the majority related to dinghies at the public dinghy dock for the designated anchorage of Spanish Waters. The presence of a 24HR guard there was not sufficient to deter thieves.
Grenada – Reported 5 incidents in 2020, none violent, down 84% from the reported high of 31 in 2019. The locations also shifted from the southern bays of Grenada to Carriacou where 4 of the incidents occurred, split between Tyrrell Bay and Sandy Island.
First hand reports bring the most complete and best quality information to our community, and continue to dominate our published reports. We all depend on each other to self-report, but there is more to do. Please, support and help the community by getting the word out, tell 2 (or more!) friends about CSSN. CSSN volunteers have worked hard to make incident reporting accessible, easy and private. Reporting in all languages supported by Google is fully enabled.
If you are a victim, complete the simple online incident report, or contact net control during the daily SSCA HF net (SSB 8104 kHz at 12:15 UTC). If you become aware of an incident, encourage the victims to make a timely and private firsthand report to CSSN. Or, make a report yourself (we will work closely with you to get the best available facts). CSSN’s site, information and resources are tools made freely available to our cruising community, and we all share the responsibility to use them wisely for our mutual safety and security.
CSSN remains an all-volunteer, independent, self-funded team. Please encourage your friends to subscribe to (FREE) Alerts!, or to follow us on social media. Check out the many resources available on our website and make CSSN a permanent part of your risk assessment and cruise planning process.
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Kim White and the all-volunteer CSSN team.