Home Commentary Open forum Crime Is Pandemic in the V.I.; Does Anybody Care?

Crime Is Pandemic in the V.I.; Does Anybody Care?


In our house, we are fuming mad. We are mad as hell! We are angry about the out-of-control crime spree.
Our neighbors told us they were leaving St. Croix. Of course, we were not totally surprised. We knew their once tranquil lives had been turned into a nightmare. Two unknown masked men entered their homes a few weeks ago threatened their lives at gunpoint, stole their money and robbed them of their domestic peace and tranquility. Our beautiful St. Croix turned into a living hell.
It was just two years ago these neighbors retired from their jobs on the mainland and picked St. Croix as their new residence over many other places. They could have gone to Florida, Hawaii, Costa Rica or anywhere else, but they chose our island.
Their instant love and appreciation of the beauty of St. Croix was refreshing. Their love for the island was manifested daily as they planted coconut trees and flowers on the roadsides of the neighborhood. They cleaned the area and joined the homeowners group and were instrumental in getting our roads paved after a long period of neglect. They made magnificent improvements to their newly purchased home and made a most positive impact on the surroundings.
Since their frightening incident, they have been scared to step outside their home even in broad daylight. They have spent a good chunk of their retirement resources on installing iron bars on windows and doors, an electronic gate, new locks, etc. Sleeping at night, however, continues to be difficult, and life is no longer the same. Escaping the island is all that's left.
We wonder how many more law-abiding residents will leave our island. We wonder how many more businesses will leave. We wonder how many more innocent people will be traumatized for life. We wonder how many more will be raped. We wonder how many more lives will be lost.
As Virgin Islanders, we are shocked and ashamed at the sad state of affairs and our government's slow and inept action. We wish our police force was better staffed, trained and properly equipped. We wish there was a state-of-the-art crime lab and forensic unit to boost our law-enforcement intelligence.
We wish there was a legal way to suspend the cuddling and constitutional overprotection of criminals. We wish our police could more readily stop and search those suspicious and creepy vehicles that wander at all hours, and especially at night when they are obviously up to no good –stalking their next victim or casing a home or a business place.
We wish the police could enforce anti-loitering laws and curtail the hanging out on neighborhood corners and entrances. We wish our government could immediately ban the heavy tinting of car windows and enforce our traffic laws. We wish there were regular roadblocks and searches of vehicles at strategic areas of the island.
We wish the National Guard was deployed to aid the police. We wish our government leaders had the chutzpah or cojones of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City, who had the will and courage to fight crime.
We wish there were more jobs and wholesome diversions for our neglected young people.
We wish that we could send our hardened crooks and hoodlums and domestic terrorists to a rehabilitation boot camp where they could get a strong daily dose of their own wickedness and brutality.
And finally, where is our outrage? Crime in the territory is pandemic. It is a major emergency affecting everyone! Where are our intense, all-out efforts and daily strategy sessions to stop crime and restore public safety and tranquility? There is no time for frolicking at off-island ceremonial conventions.
Please send help, Governor!

Editor's note: Carmelo Rivera is a St. Croix businessman and a past president of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce.
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