As the holiday season approaches, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau reminds U.S. citizens in The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos that this period has historically served as a catalyst for an increase in crime and violence. This notice is intended to provide security information to help ensure a safe holiday season.
Vigilance plays a key role in the early detection of danger. If you observe anything you perceive as suspicious or dangerous the best option is to move away immediately and call the police at 911 or 919 in The Bahamas, and 911 or 999 in Turks and Caicos.
Perpetrators of residential crimes typically conduct pre-attack surveillance by watching the intended property and victim(s). This underscores the need for an increased awareness of common activities which can directly impact personal security. Please take a moment to consider the following security tips:
- You know what is normal and what isn’t in the areas you frequent. Use that knowledge to identify and avoid possible threats early.
- Pay close attention to any unusual activity that may have occurred since leaving home and getting in and out of vehicles. Things like an open gate, unfamiliar vehicles parked nearby, house doors forced open, or shattered windows can be a sign of criminal interest or activity.
- Do not leave belongings unsecured outside your residence and secure your home. Use an alarm system when at home and away. Close and lock all windows and doors. Have an escape plan for you and know how to get out of the house including opening windows and doors with security grills.
- Think prudently about after dark travel. Inform someone of your travel plans and when to expect you. At night, park in lit areas when possible. Avoid unlit areas where persons could hide and ambush. For example, Nassau’s Arawak Cay area on Sunday evenings is a popular hangout and the scene of recent crimes of opportunity such as muggings and assaults, resulting in an increased police presence.
- Keep your wallet or purse close to your body; never leave your purse or wallet unattended in a shopping cart or restaurant. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash – use an ATM/credit card when possible and check your credit card statements regularly for potential fraud or unauthorized charges.
- Avoid using ATM machines located in isolated areas and consider using ATM machines located in locations that have security coverage. Be particularly aware of your surroundings when making withdrawals.
- Keep your car doors locked and your windows rolled up, as you drive. Keep valuables out of sight when parked (including cell phones, laptops, cash, GPS, or other valuables). Utilize a car alarm or steering wheel locking device.
- Do not display or wear expensive jewelry that may make you a target for criminals.
- In crawling traffic or in a stopped line of cars, leave at least a half a car length between your vehicle and the car in front of you. If you believe you are being followed, drive immediately to a safe location such as a police station, a gas station, or a hotel. If traveling in an unfamiliar area use a GPS or map app on your cell phone to know where you are when driving.
- If confronted by armed criminals, remember your vehicle or valuables are not worth your life or anyone else’s life. Try to remain calm, clearly display your hands and do not make any sudden moves that could be interpreted as resistance.
- Notify the police and your insurance company if you are in a vehicle accident or need roadside assistance.
For further information:
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Turks and Caicos Specific Information and Bahamas Specific Information.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas, located at 42 Queen Street (across from the British Colonial Hilton Hotel), Nassau; telephone: 242-322-1181; after hours emergency telephone: 242-357-7004; ACS unit fax: 242-356-7174; e-mail: ACSNASSAU@state.gov ; web page: https://bs.usembassy.gov. The Turks & Caicos Consular Agency is located at 2 Ventura Ct., Grace Bay Suite 102E, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The Consular Agent is LeShelle Tull-Thomas (649-232-5713, TullThomasLS@state.gov).
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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