You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t occasionally wonder how safe you’ll be on your upcoming trip to St. Thomas. You may have heard vague warnings from friends about crime in the islands, or maybe you saw a news report about a recent shooting or kidnapping on St. Thomas or St. Croix.
So is St. Thomas (or any of the U.S. Virgin Islands) safe for tourists? I think the answer is yes — and this is not just an idle guess. As a reporter who covers crime for the local newspaper, I can honestly say that I haven’t heard of a single serious crime committed against a tourist in the year I’ve been here.
Street gangs do exist here, but they target almost exclusively other gang members. And opportunistic criminals do lurk about, looking to hold up pedestrians or businesses for cash or jewelry. But they operate at times and in places where tourists rarely go.
Thousands of visitors come here every year and ride the local buses, wander the colonial-era streets, and enjoy the magnificent beaches, without incident.
Of course you should obey the same rules of personal safety here that you would at home: don’t make yourself a target by walking down sketchy streets late at night laden with cash (for example Back Street in downtown Charlotte Amalie); don’t accept (or offer) rides from people you don’t know; and don’t go home with people you don’t know after you’ve been drinking, whether they be locals OR other tourists.
In sum, St. Thomas is no safer, nor more dangerous, than anywhere else. All cities (and islands) have crime, as does the town you come from, no doubt. The difference is that most people feel safer at home, because things are familiar, but crime can happen to you anywhere.
I hope that this message has shed some light on St. Thomas and turned the “unfamiliar” into a “familiar,” so you feel safe when you visit.