If you’re going to be travelling to the Caribbean, you should know a few things about St. Maarten. Similar to other islands in the region, St. Maarten is not without risk and isn’t without the occasional crime.
There have been reports of muggings, robberies and sexual assaults on citizens of St. Maarten – both locals and travelers alike. But what is the level of danger there? How many crimes happen there each year?
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Crime in St. Maarten is relatively low
Crime in St. Maarten is relatively low when compared to other Caribbean islands like Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago, but it has been on the rise in recent years, with 382 incidents recorded in 2019 alone (a 6% increase from 2018).
The increase in crime has been attributed to the drug trade, the smuggling of illegal firearms and the drug-trafficking activities by different criminal organizations. The effects of this increase in crime are being felt most directly on tourists, who have been robbed, assaulted or even shot at on several occasions.
Driving around or walking through certain parts of St. Maarten’s capital, Philipsburg, is especially dangerous at night, as many crimes are related to car break-ins and muggings.
St. Maarten does not represent a high risk
By far, the Caribbean island with the highest crime rate is Jamaica, with Trinidad not far behind in second place. While St. Maarten does not represent a high risk, it’s important to be aware of the security situation in order to take the proper precautions and avoid becoming a crime statistic while visiting.
St. Maarten’s crime statistics
Here are some of St. Maarten’s 2020 crime statistics to help you decide if the island is safe for upcoming tourists.
1 Murder Rate (per 100,000 Population) 2.51 Country Rank #24
2 Robbery Rate (per 100,000 Population) 46.98 Country Rank #25
3 Assault Rate (per 100,000 Population) 18.05 Country Rank #20
4 Rape Rate (per 100,000 Population) 1.64 Country Rank #28
5 Gun-Related Crime Rate (per 100,000 Population) 24.12 Country Rank #21
6 Drug-Related Crime Rate (per 100,000 Population) 81.65 Country Rank #34
Tourist safety tips
- Visitors travelling to St. Maarten should always be aware of their surroundings and not flaunt any valuable jewelry or gadgets. This can help one avoid being a victim of crime while in St. Maarten.
- St. Maarten does get quite a few tourists, so the risk of being a victim of petty crime is minimized, as long as you visit during the daytime and stay in frequented areas. These places include the Great Bay beach, Maho Beach, Simpson Bay Beach (home to many bars) and Philipsburg (home to Dutch and French boroughs). You can find security personnel all over the island, but they are mostly concentrated at certain places only.
- Keep valuables hidden and close to your body at all times, especially when riding in a taxi or walking on public transportation.
- Avoid deserted areas after dark, and always walk with someone else if possible.
- When driving, keep windows up, doors locked, valuables out of sight and be mindful of anyone who looks suspicious.
- Keep your bags close to you.
- Leave some cash at home. Carry only enough cash for each day’s activities.
- Use credit cards when possible and keep them in sight.
- Avoid unoccupied areas like beaches or parks after dark.
- Don’t give out personal information, such as passport numbers or banking information.
- Keep a low profile in sketchy areas by not wearing expensive clothes and jewelry that will attract attention.
- Avoid walking alone at night.
- Be aware of pickpockets and thieves.
- Lock valuables in your hotel room.
- Use caution when using ATMs.
- If someone tries to steal from you or threaten you with violence, don’t resist – they may have a weapon.
Make an informed decision before booking
Although St. Maarten is unlikely to be called “dangerous” by a tourist visiting the Caribbean island, it’s important to understand the safety ratings and crime statistics that have been reported in recent years so that you can make an informed decision before booking your ticket to travel there in 2021/22.