Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only. Attempts have been made to ensure its accuracy (as of 2016), 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.
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.
Much of the information on this page mainly concerns Providenciales.
Crime against tourists definitely occurs in the Turks and Caicos. The country received 1,407,313 visitors in 2014. 971,838 of these were cruise ships guests who only visit for a few hours on Grand Turk. Very little crime is committed against these visitors.
Of the 435,475 non-cruise 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 0 to 2 of these villa invasions happen on Providenciales every year. Staying in a hotel or resort will 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 occurred 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 and remote western beaches and national parks. Official statistics are limited, but we estimate approximately 40-50 of these non-home invasion armed robberies are committed every year. This estimate includes both residents and visitors, but the overwhelming majority of these victims are residents.
Thefts are the most common crime committed against visitors. These crimes are usually unattended valuables being 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 western half of Providenciales has very little development and several national parks and beautiful beaches are here, including Northwest Point National Park, West Harbour Bluff and Frenchmans Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve. 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.
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. Fares that cost a local worker $1 will cost a tourist between $5 and $10.
A few taxi drivers have been known to charge vastly inflated fares, 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.
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.
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 Districts and Areas of Providenciales 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 it is typically between 15-60 minutes.
This article has attempted to provide you with a list of facts regarding regional and local crime. The US State Department ranks crime as 'relatively low' in the Turks and Caicos (as of 2015).
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.