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A vessel of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force Marine Branch, Caicos Marina, Providenciales.
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Safety and Crime

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

This article will attempt to provide you with unbiased facts regarding regional and national crime.

Overall, the Caribbean, Central and South American regions have a high, and in many cases, an 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 safest countries in the Caribbean and overall crime is equatable with large North American cities such as New York or Miami. However, being one of the safest Caribbean countries doesn't necessarily mean a lot when you're competing with the significant crime problems of places such as Jamaica or the Bahamas.

The Turks and Caicos has several inhabited islands. The vast majority of crime occurs on the main populated island of Providenciales.

The islands of North and Middle Caicos, South Caicos, Salt Cay and the smaller cays see very little crime against visitors.

Much of the information on this page mainly concerns Providenciales.

Regional crime ranking of the Turks and Caicos Islands

Due to incomplete and non-existent crime statistics, it’s very difficult to get an accurate idea of regional and Caribbean crime. The only statistics that are somewhat comparable are murder rates.

Of Caribbean countries with published statistic, the Turks and Caicos has one of the lowest murder rates. Keep in mind that this data is several years old.

As seen in the table below crime gets much 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.

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
6.6
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

Crimes against Tourists

Crime against tourists definitely occurs in the Turks and Caicos. The country is expected to see roughly 1,300,000 visitors in 2014. About 1,000,000 of these are cruise ships who only visit for a few hours on Grand Turk. Very little crime is committed against cruise ship guests.

Of the 300,000 non cruise ship guests, nearly all stay for multiple days on Providenciales. The following mainly applies to guests staying overnight on Providenciales.

Armed invasions of rental villas are the greatest crime concern. The typical scenario is criminals (two to five persons and typically armed with firearms, blunt weapons or machetes) break into an occupied villa, subdue their victims, collect all valuables including passports and electronics, possibly attempt to have a victim withdraw cash at an ATM, and then leave. Our estimates are that 5 to 10 of these villa invasions happen on Providenciales every year. Staying in a hotel or resort will greatly reduce this risk. Some villas have security guards or neighborhood patrols that lessen the likelihood of crime.

Armed robberies of pedestrians and persons are another issue. Criminals (in most cases one to two) will typically accost their victims at locations where the criminals are unlikely to be seen, demand all valuables, and then leave. Most of these robberies have occur at dusk or after dark. Although committed throughout Providenciales, due to the tourist density these robberies (for tourist victims) usually happen in the Bight and the western Grace Bay areas, both on the roads and on the beach. A few are committed at the seldom visited remote western beaches and national parks. Official statistics are sketchy but we estimate about 40-50 of these non-home invasion armed robberies are committed every year. This estimate includes both residents and visitors. The majority of these victims are residents.

Thefts are the most common crime committed against visitors. This typically take place as unattended valuables stolen from a car (a window will often be broken if the car doors are locked) or from the beach. Although not quite as common, thefts from unoccupied hotel and resort rooms and villas do happen. We do not have any reliable information on how often these thefts occur, but published police information suggests at least several incidents per month. One local publication simply recommends that you leave the doors to your rental car unlocked to prevent the windows from being broken (the repair cost may not be covered by insurance).

Remote, isolated and secluded areas increase your risk of becoming a crime victim. The west half of Providenciales has very little development and several national parks and beautiful beaches are here. Most of these sites are accessed by long unpaved roads and criminals are aware of the isolation and subsequent long police response times. Although the number of reported crimes (both thefts and armed robberies) against visitors that occur annually in this remote region of Providenciales is in the single digits, it’s important to be aware that comparatively few visit these areas, so statistically the risk is greater. We've posted notices on the attractions which (in our opinion) pose an elevated risk.

General Crime and Safety Tips

  • Consider not going to any remote or isolated area on Providenciales
  • Do not leave valuables in your vehicle or unattended on the beach
  • Consider staying at a hotel or resort instead of an isolated rental villa
  • Be aware that being out at dusk or night on the beach carries an increased risk of crime
  • Be aware that walking on the roads at dusk or night carries an increased risk of crime
  • Lock up or secure any valuables at your accommodation if a safe is available
  • Don’t leave any valuables exposed when not at your accommodation
  • Consider obtaining travel insurance that covers theft

Transportation Safety

See also Getting around Providenciales.

Jitneys and Unlicensed Taxis

There is no public transport of any kind in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Small four door 'jitney' cars and mini-buses cater to the low-wage migrant worker market, but we recommend that tourists avoid these due to fact that they’re typically unlicensed, uninsured, poorly driven, and that drivers will often charge tourists inflated rates.

Taxis

See also Providenciales Taxis.

Although it may not technically be a crime, a few taxi drivers have been known to be devious in their quotes, multiplying the quoted fare by the number of passengers after arriving at the destination. Confirm with your taxi driver that your agreed fare includes all passengers in your group before riding.

Rental Cars and Driving

See also Driving in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Due to being by far the best value, a rental car is our recommended method of getting around. When driving, be alert for poor drivers.

The worst cars on the roads are usually taxis and jitneys. Taxis drivers tend to excessively exceed the speed limit and drive recklessly, and jitneys will stop and change lanes with no warning to pick up passengers.

Due to the often poor condition of dirt roads and the high cost of auto repairs, we suggest that you stay on paved roads as much as possible.

We recommend that visitors 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.

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 is typically around 15-60 minutes. Listings for all Police Stations.