Crime on the Caribbean island of Dominica is primarily of the petty sort, though the island did experience 21 murders in 2010. Many people come here as part of a cruise and may not be aware of the potential dangers.
While it's not a hazard, per se, one of the first -- and hopefully last -- examples of aggressive behaviour you'll see on Dominica involves persistent tour guides. Many will try to get you to hop into their taxis. If you ignore them and just walk through their line of defence, you'll probably shed them for good.
Once inside the island's grips, you should watch out for theft of unattended beach belongings and valuables in cars. Special precaution should be taken in your accommodation. Villas are sometimes burglarized, particularly in the area of Calibishie.
Make sure the owner of your rental has insurance and demand proof of it; otherwise, you won't be able to get compensated if you are robbed on the property. If staying in a hotel, lock your prized possessions in the safe, and if in a guesthouse, secure your luggage in a locker with a padlock. Those on boats should also be wary of wayward thieves, as yachts are also hotspots for burglary.
Follow the rules for travel to all foreign destinations when it comes to guarding personal property. Keep wallets in front pockets or compartments and purses securely around you. Be watchful when shopping or going out to eat, as these are vulnerable times when thieves can attack.
Sometimes, the threat of crime may be more direct than lifting a wallet from a pocket. The L'escalier Tete Chien is one popular tourist spot that does draw crime. Hikers have reported being mugged, and recent travellers said individuals tried to get into their car when they drove in Sineku Village near the start of the trail. Some travellers bypass this hike to avoid the danger. If you decide to go, keep all doors locked and windows rolled up. Go on the trail with a group or a guide to lessen the chances of being individually targeted for mugging.
While not necessarily criminal, some travellers have reported feeling duped by charges for tours, food and other items. There's often a 10-percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on certain services, but it's not always clearly stated when it's included and when it's added after. Some accommodations seem to double charge, billing guests for a room fee before adding on the VAT.
Some tours may not specify what's not included in the price. Some of these are just simple beverages, but others are actually sites you may need to pay extra for. With both hotels and tours, read the tour literature carefully and ask exactly what is and what's not included. Always bring extra cash just in case, and make sure to get the quotes in the correct currency. While you should do your research, it's best to book tours quickly, as the slots fill up with cruise-ship vacationers.
Final note: Though it's probably the thing that looks most menacing, don't be too alarmed to see locals carrying machetes. It's the island way, and those brandishing them most likely want to cut down some crops for their agriculture work, not your head.
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