Today’s Opinion 2: Crimes against tourism

POSTED: 03/2/11 1:51 PM

A crime against tourism is a crime against St. Maarten. That statement from tourism Minister Franklin Meyers sounds heartfelt and at the same time it feels a bit as if not all murder victims are the same. But the fact that the particular murder of the Cheetah Moon’s chef has caught the attention of politicians is a good thing.
The call to keep St. Maarten safe has suddenly taken a dramatic turn. The realization that murder is bad for tourism has suddenly come to life.
We recently learned that the police force is operating at 55 personnel below its desired minimum strength. Will 55 extra cops make the island safer? Who knows, we’ll find that out if we ever get them.
The truth is of course that no number of police officers will make St. Maarten a true paradise where crime simply does not occur.
We could ask Warren Buffett to build us three more prisons and we could ask Bill Gates to throw in some funds for 200 police officers – God knows that they wouldn’t even miss the money.
But people would still get murdered. There would still be armed robberies, rapes, thefts and burglaries.
The weird thing is that people do not really expect the police to prevent crime; they expect the men in blue to solve crimes.
Unfortunately, St. Maarten does not have a good track record in that respect. The past four years the solution rate has slowly sunk to a record low of near 15 percent. Figures over 2010 are not available yet.
What irritates people, and what gives them a feeling of insecurity, is the fact that murderers, robbers and rapists roam the island without ever getting caught.
Okay, that is an exaggeration, because some of them do get caught. And they do serious time if they did a serious crime.
But we have a number of high profile cases that are on the face of it going nowhere. David Eustace, Leta Cordes (now a cold case), Robert Brous – just to name a few names that will go down in history as victims of crime. Will their killers ever go to jail for their crimes? That is what keeps people busy.
High profile murders install more fear that what some might call a bit unceremoniously run of the mill killings. The murders that occur among drug dealers, like Marco Beaumont, have less impact on the population that the murder of businessmen like Haresh Dayalani, Jean Claude Busquet or Eric Yuan Sam.
The Busquet murder is, by the way, one of the pearls in the crown of the justice system, because it was solved so quickly.
On Friday, chief Prosecutor Hans Mos remarked that the last killing in St. Maarten had taken place four months ago, somewhere in October. The next day the chef of the Cheetah Moon was found dead in Mullet Bay.
To us, this is not a crime against tourism. We find that a rather obscene way of looking at murder. This crime was against a man who happened to be a chef working aboard a luxury yacht. There is no particular reason to be angrier about this murder than about the murder of Leta Cordes or the disappearance of Robert Brous. In those cases, politicians never bothered to comment and maybe that is how it should be.
When murder becomes a political hot potato (because of its potential negative effect on the economy), questions automatically arise about who is responsible for safety and security on the island. That sends the matter straight back to the people who lament a particular murder: the politicians and the responsible ministers.

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Comments (1)

 

  1. visitor says:

    In January our suitcases were stolen from our rental car while enjoying our last few hours at the beach. It was around 3 pm on a hot sunny day, our car was parked twenty feet away from where we were on the beach, I could see the car on the side of the building and still the robbers stole everything from us.

    After returning home we learn that we were not alone, this is an ongoing problem in St.Maarten – we are telling everyone we know – St. Maarten is a very beautiful place with some very bad people in it.

    It’s organized across the island; packs of robbers are working together- watching out for tourist riding around in rental cars in shopping district, beaches and bars. Some of the rental car companies are in on this as well.

    The thieves have master keys for rental cars, the organizers at the rental car companies is informing the criminals as to where people are staying and how many are traveling together. After calling the police department on the Dutch side and talking with a high ranking officer – he finally admitted that there’s a real problem on the Island and that it’s Island wide; both French and Dutch side.

    RECOMMENDATION
    • Investigate the car rental companies – warn them that the police are watching them. Even if none of them is involve, at least they will assist in protecting themselves.
    • Set up smart operation – new technology on the market now that can be used to track suitcases. GPS tracking can be place on the inner lining undetected giving the cops the edge on combating these criminals
    • Caution to all tourist visiting the Island – the police and the tourism board should be out patrolling suspecting high crime areas assisting victims of this sort of crime.
    • More beach and shopping district is needed.