CSSN is publishing the 2019 Annual Report a bit later than usual this year as 2020 has brought many challenges and changes to our cruising community. Closed borders, lock-down/stay-at-home and curfew orders have now limited our cruising and social behaviors, as well as the activity of those who might victimize cruisers.
2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic became a part of our lives, reflects the highest number of reported crimes against yachts in the Caribbean, up substantially from 2018. Sadly, violent crimes were up sharply from 2018 lows.
The data and information that CSSN publishes is sourced from the firsthand reports made by victims and those in our community who make reports. CSSN enables and encourages reporting. Volunteers work hard behind the scenes to vet and publish our reports, while maintaining and improving the free offerings available on our site, safetyandsecuritynet.org. The published incident reports and supporting website tools like the very popular Zoom-Tap, Know & Go feature help inform our community about potential risks. Subscriptions to our (FREE) Alerts continue to increase significantly as do followers on social media.
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank those who make reports, the CSSN volunteers and the talented programmers who are helping us to make our site and services even better. A major effort is underway and the behind the scenes work will enable us to provide even greater user functionality as our new platform matures. So stay tuned for some new and exciting offerings from CSSN.
CSSN has partnered with Noonsite and the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) for several years and during 2019 we welcomed a third partner, Boatwatch.org , a natural extension and compliment to the daily SSCA KPK net (8104 kHz at 12:15 UTC). CSSN reports are increasingly incorporated into the newly revamped Noonsite website. We are all getting better, together.
As mentioned above, 2019 saw another significant increase in total reported incidents in the Caribbean basin. Incidents were up 26 % from 111 to 140, following a similar (+27%) increase in 2018. Violent incidents were up 100%, from 7 to 14, returning to a more typical level. The majority of the 2019 violent reports are from Panama. A large portion of the 2019 nonviolent increase (+21% from 104 to 126) was driven by a several months long string of burglaries that plagued some of the southern bays in Grenada. We will discuss the 4 top 2019 countries (Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines – SVG, Martinique and Panama) later in this report.
Some risks are being managed by routing/destination choices and by behavior. Convoys were quickly organized by Trinidad stakeholders when a serious attempted piracy event occurred on the passage between Grenada and Trinidad. Some cruisers in the western Caribbean regions have organized small group convoys. At anchor, many cruising boats have updated and upgraded their security systems now that low cost components make motion detection and intrusion alarms a common feature for cruising boats. Dinghies/outboards remain a primary target for thieves, and as cruisers have upgraded elements of their dinghy security, thieves have 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.
After an unusually low 2018, 2019 sees a rise and return to a more typical level of violent crime. The 14 violent incidents reported in 2019 occurred in 5 countries. Panama recorded 7, including the only death, Honduras 3 (equal to 2018), Grenada added 2 and Nicaragua and Trinidad each had 1.
In 2018 4 countries- St. Lucia, SVG, Panama and Trinidad combined to account for about 50% of all reported incidents. In 2019, 4 countries again account for the majority, but the mix is somewhat different …. Grenada, SVG, Martinique and Panama.
While no detail incident charts 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.
Grenada – Absent from the top list for the last 2 years, Grenada returns for reasons similar to its earlier inclusion. A total of 31 Incidents were reported from all areas of the island group, 2 in the violent category (1 offshore piracy related suspicious activity and 1 assault) with 17 burglaries and 10 thefts eventually reported principally from the Hog Island and Clarkes Court bay anchorages. Cruisers and the Coast Guard responded with nighttime patrols and police collected forensics from some of the victim yachts. A reward was offered, but no arrests or recoveries were made.
SVG – A regular member of the top group had no violent incidents in 2019, but did increase significantly in total incidents from 12 in 2018 to 21 in 2019. The locations in this multi island country shifted and include an uptick in incidents in Union and Bequia.
Martinique – Makes its first appearance in the top group this year. 17 incidents were reported in 2019, (none violent) up from 5 in 2019. Improved rates of reporting likely underlie some portion of this increase as bilingual French speaking cruisers have helped by introducing their compatriots to CSSN and our services, helping with outreach, and then assisting with translations and reports. A great thanks goes out to those in our community who took the time to help in this important way, helping CSSN serve the larger cruising community better.
Panama – Reported 16 incidents in 2019, 7 of them violent, up from 10 total /1 violent in 2018. Panama’s 7 violent incidents comprise half of the reported 2019 violent events, and generally occurred when yachts anchored alone in isolated areas. The single but tragic report of assault resulting in death occurred in the usually tranquil San Blas islands region. The balance of the violent incidents occurred in coastal bays between the San Blas and the Panama Canal. In the 2 most violent cases (death and sexual assault) some arrests were made after federal level Panamanian police became involved when international press reporting posed a threat to general tourism. Those charged remain in custody but prosecution in these two cases is moving at a typically slow Caribbean pace. Some additional resources have been made available to marine authorities along the northern coast, and some bays (Nombre de Dios) closed to anchoring by visiting yachts.
First hand reports bring the most complete and best quality information to our community. We all depend on each other to self-report, and there is more to do. Please, help everyone by getting the word out. We 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 and private online incident report, or contact net control during the daily SSCA HF broadcast (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 all the facts available). CSSN’s site, data and resources are tools for 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.
With your valued input CSSN informs and captains decide.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!
Kim White and the all-volunteer CSSN team.Follow Us Share