Safety and Crime

Officers from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force visit the scene of an auto accident.

Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only. Attempts have been made to ensure it's accuracy (as of 2014), but Visit Turks and Caicos Islands and it's editors accept no liability for the use or application of this information.

For a list of crime prevention tips and what to do if you encounter problems, read How to avoid getting into trouble in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

This article will attempt to provide you with unbiased facts regarding regional and local crime information to help you better plan your vacation.

Overall, the Caribbean region has a high, and in some cases, extremely high crime rate. Western European visitors should especially be aware of the difference in crime rates vs. their home country.

Is the Turks and Caicos Islands 'safe'?

Yes and no. It depends on what you consider to be safe, what exactly you choose to do on your vacation, when you do it, and how you do it.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is one of the safer countries in the Caribbean and overall crime is equatable with North American cities (similar to New York and Miami), but there are several things you should be aware of. Being one of the safest Caribbean countries doesn't necessarily mean a lot when you're competing with countries such as Jamaica or the Bahamas, with their significant crime problems.

Police Information

Being a British Overseas Territory, the management of the police is the responsibility of the United Kingdom government. The Commissioner of Police and senior officials are appointed by the Governor, who is the representative of HM Queen Elizabeth.

The main Providenciales police headquarters are in the Downtown area near the airport. There are stations in Five Cays, Chalk Sound (near Sapodilla Bay), the Bight, and Grace Bay. See the Maps and Districts, Areas and Layout page for more information.

Dial 999 or 911 in an emergency. Local police headquarters for non-emergencies can be reached at 946-2499. Response times vary by area, but experience points to around 10-25 minutes.

Listings for all Police Stations.

How to have a safe and enjoyable stay

Read our How to avoid getting into trouble in the Turks and Caicos Islands article for a list of tips.

Most of the tourists visiting Providenciales (and the rest of the Turks and Caicos Islands) come for the beach and stay in a hotel in the Grace Bay area. This area is the safest on the island and crime is low in this area.

Activities and Attractions

Certain activities and choices increase your risk of being a victim of crime. Some of the attractions in the country are remote and down unpaved roads, which may be several miles long and away from the police and crowds. Criminals know this and take advantage of it. We've posted notices on the attractions which (in our opinion) pose an elevated risk.

Getting drunk at a bar out of the tourist areas is another bad idea.

Visiting secluded beaches is higher risk than staying on Grace Bay Beach. This includes crimes aganist the person, risk of having your car broken into, and also risk of having your possessions stolen at the beach while unattended. Indeed, one local publication simply recommends that you leave your doors unlocked to prevent your car windows being broken (which isn't covered by insurance).

As in most countries, risks increase in the evening and at night and vary by location. Whereas you probably won't have a problem sitting on the beach in front of a Grace Bay hotel at night, your risk is multiples higher if you do the same thing at a secluded beach (such as at some villas) at night.

Location and Accommodation

Your chances of being involved in a crime incident may increase if you stay in a secluded area. For example, some villas and resorts in the country are down unpaved roads, away from from the crowds and police. Response times for emergency services can be poor, and unfortunately criminals are aware of this and take advantage of it. Whilst there are no reliable statistics, both for number of tourists staying in a secluded area and also home invasions, staying in a secluded area can be more risky than staying in the Grace Bay area. This is primarily relevant for Providenciales. Many of our other islands have low crime rates.

A police cruiser from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Marine Police. Common tasks involve tackling illegal immigration.

General Safety Tips

Where Not to Go (for Providenciales)

See the Layout, Districts and Areas section for more information on where these places mentioned are.

This information primarily concerns Providenciales, the main tourist island and where over 70% of the population reside.

The tourist areas (such as Grace Bay and the Turtle Cove area) experience the lowest crime rate on Providenciales. Secluded areas present a risk to visitors. Crimes against tourists have happened in the Northwest Point National Park and West Harbour Bluff (southwest point) areas in Providenciales, due to their secluded locations. Although these are both scenic areas and definitely of natural interest, their location is a risk, due to both crime and very poor roads (auto breakdown/getting stuck being problems). You may wish to avoid these locations if you are not comfortable with the risk, and especially if your party is small.

  • Secluded beaches should be avoided, especially if you're only one or two people. Many of the tourist related thefts occur in these situations.
  • Secluded villas, hotels, and resorts may increase your crime risk. Whereas there are few violent crimes aganist tourists in the Turks and Caicos Islands, these crimes occur with a higher frequency at secluded accommodation.

Transportation Safety

See the Getting around Providenciales section for more information.

There is no public transport of any kind in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Small 'jitney' mini-buses operate to cater to the low-wage migrant worker market, but these should NEVER be used by tourists, one reason being they consistently overcharge tourists. Taxis are the common mode of transportation along with rental cars.

Renting a car can be a good idea, but be alert for poor driving and sudden stops in the road. This is especially common with the usually illegal 'jitney' bus services, as they will stop directly in the traffic lane to pick up additional passengers. When driving, generally try to stay on paved roads, as most tourist attractions and sightseeing is accessible via paved roads or a short unpaved sides road.

  • Dirt roads that run several miles into the undeveloped wilderness areas increase your risk of being involved in a crime incident due to response times for police and auto breakdowns in these poor conditions.
  • Never use local 'bus' services or unmarked cars who claim to be taxis. These are generally unlicensed, uninsured, and driven by illegal Haitian migrants. It is common for them to double or triple charge anyone who appears to be a tourist. Providenciales has an abundance of licenced taxis.
  • Never give rides to hitch-hikers, even if a lone women. Never stop to give assistance to a broken-down car, even if it appears to be a lone female motorist. There have been incidents of this type of ambush crime. If you think they need help, call the police on 999 or 911.

Regional crime ranking of the Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos has one of the lowest rates of crime in the Caribbean (using murders per capita as an index), ranking 1 (safest) of the 13 countries with crime statistics. This index may not be the most relevant but is the only one available across the countries.

As seen in the table below crime gets exponentially worse as you progress down the list. For example, Jamaica has a murder rate that is 8.4 times higher than the Turks and Caicos, with the Bahamas being 4.6 times higher. The Turks and Caicos has a population of 31,458 people (2012 census), and experienced 2 murders (no tourists) in 2011.

Murders per 100,000

Adjusted for populations less than 100,000
UK (national average)
1.4
London
2.4
US (national average)
4.3
Turks and Caicos Islands
6.3
New York
7.0
Antigua and Barbuda
7.0
British Virgin Islands
7.0
San Francisco
7.0
Grenada
9.0
Barbados
11.0
Cayman Islands
14.0
Guyana
18.0
Miami
19.4
Dominica
21.0
St Vincent
23.0
St Lucia
26.0
Bahamas
29.0
St Kitts and Nevis
40.0
Jamaica
53.0

In Conclusion

This article has attempted to provide you with a list of facts regarding regional and local crime. Both the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the US State Department rank crime as low in the Turks and Caicos (as of 2013).

The Turks and Caicos Islands is one of the safest Caribbean destinations, but Caribbean crime levels are much higher than North America and Western Europe. Common sense and caution should be followed to avoid being a victim of crime.

Last reviewed by an editor on 20 May 2014.
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