Reports from the Daily Star in May 2017 stating of a crime “explosion” in Cape Verde should be read with a pinch of salt. The whole article by George Martin is regurgitated gibberish, with scaremongering comments in typical journalistic hype with poor grammar.
Holidaymakers are being regularly attacked and mugged so often that the Foreign Office has been forced to put out a warning on visiting the country.
His comments are unfounded and have no quoted source, other than the Foreign Office, who’s website does publish in contrary:
Most visits to Cape Verde are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions against petty crime.
There is crime anywhere in the world and my local newspaper does publish more crime related stories in one month than I have heard about here. However there is a trend that reported crime is on the increase to which I concur, but that is because it comes from a small baseline and today, there are more tourists. So, kind of blame yourselves?
Back in 2007 there was a murder on the island of two Italian ladies, the whole story is unclear but surrounds three young women aged between 17 and 30 who came to the island to surf. One of the women had a past relationship with one of the men. The three girls went with the three men to Espargos and then Fontona where two were bludgeoned to death. This was a one off story and I have only heard of just two instances of personal assault muggings in the past 10 years and regularly feel at ease walking home in dim lit streets at night. So personal assault on Sal is a rare occurrence, however it maybe prevalent on other islands as the FOC states:
Sexual assaults are rare but they do occur. Be alert and avoid secluded stretches of the beach, including Praia do Estoril, Praia de Chaves and Praia de Santa Monica on the island of Boavista.
Petty crime and burglaries are on the increase for sure, but it is not an epidemic. We have had our TV stolen from our apartment when we were back in the UK. Even though all doors and windows were locked, the flat screen disappeared and my only supposition was that it was an inside job, stolen to order as the DVD and other electronics remained undisturbed. I know of three other burglaries where cash, laptops, mobile phones and other electronics have been taken over the last ten years. Each time, the offence being reported to the police and some property recovered and culprits attested. You are less likely to experience burglary in a hotel with their security procedures in place and if you do, who’s to say it was not a fellow guest?
Opportunist theft on the beaches is not uncommon, but ask yourself why and you’ll probably realise that someone has gone for a dip leaving their property ashore or maybe did fall asleep with bag out of reach. I am reading too that there are instances of bag snatching on the streets of Cape Verde, which is not uncommon in European tourism cities either. I’m not privy to any such crime here in Santa Maria, but I am assuming maybe Mindelo on Sao Vincent or Praia on the island of Santiago, which are also ports of voyage for cruise ships? Reports are than groups of adults or children are targeting unsuspecting tourists.
Known pickpockets to the police operate in Santa Maria as I can testify, my iPhone lifted while we left the Calema Bar one late evening. As I blocked the exit and shouted to my Cape Verdian friend, the police were outside and apprehended three suspects in front of me, all frisked and the iPhone discoverd under the belt of one. It could have been my wallet or keys from any other pocket. I had not used the phone in the club as only entered for a few minutes to find someone. As I felt a tap to my right pocket, I put my hand in and it had gone. A few hours in the police station followed giving statements, learning that this guy is a regular offender.
Common Sense Attitude
In the aforementioned Daily Star article, there is a comment that does hold some truth.
Cape Verde is a growing nation but still has some issues with poverty. With all their money and high value gadgets, tourists are seen as easy prey.
So take sensible precautions as you would at home or elsewhere in the world. Common sense prevails. Keep doors and windows locked when you vacate your room, keep high value items in a safe, don’t take expensive watches or jewellery to the beach, bar or club. There is no fashion parade! Keep items like phones and cameras in your bag when not in use and don’t flaunt their use. You’ll stick out like a tacky tourist for sure!
So I’m not going to paint some rose tinted vision that all is good, because that would be unfair. Someone for sure will be the victim of crime, but don’t let it be you.
TripAdvisor And TUI Myths
I remember back in 2006 when researching our visit to the RIU Funanna that there was a few posts on TripAdvisor, writers reporting being accosted at night and that you need a gun in town to keep the harassment away. In defence, I can only assume this to be the sometimes over zealous and persistent sales tactics of the street vendors and the somewhat dim lighted streets. That said, times have changed since 2006 but there are rumours today that tourists are being told to stay away from taxis and local operators providing island tours under the guise that it is not safe to do so.
Regularly taking a taxi and a few island tours too, my suspicion is that the TUI resort reps are pedalling stories to sell their own tours, which they used to subcontract to these people.
We did witness a protest by these owner operator drivers today, chastising TUI. Speaking to two taxi drivers subsequent to the protest, one who explained that he has a small family to support, they are angry that TUI are telling lies to the tourists. They want TUI to stop telling lies and allow fair competition. In response, a statement dated December 2017 reads:
We take these allegations extremely seriously. TUI is one of the biggest employers of Cabo Verde, supports local infrastructure and promotes local businesses.
TUI associated company RIU has been expanding since 2005, with four holiday resorts employing about 1,500 people now. Many of those people would not have a job without the tourism industry. Also at our TUI Destination Services offices in Boavista and Sal as well as our excursions and hotel businesses, we employ many nationals. Some of them have managerial positions as Office Manager, Transfer Administrative, Bus Driver etc. As one of the major employers on the islands we follow in a very strict manner of the National Employment Law.
We are aware that with rapid growth in tourism, comes a challenge to protect the environment, ensure that local businesses and communities can benefit from tourism and help local entrepreneurs and craftspeople to offer authentic excursions and handcrafts to the influx of new guests. We are working constantly to increase the positive impact of tourism and foster local businesses.
As part of the Destination Council in Cape Verde, TUI is supporting specific projects relating to water, waste, clean beaches and local crafts. Moreover the TUI Care Foundation is supporting different projects to improve the life situation of children with donations of about €200,000 over the next three years. As part of our understanding of sustainable tourism the TUI Care Foundation also supports turtle protection on both islands.
TUI promotes tours on both islands to develop a closer proximity with the local communities, expecting customers to visit communities and places of high interest while holidaying in Cape Verde. If a guest choses to book a 3rd party tour, we do not interfere.
Call The Police
The police station in Santa Maria is located What3Words location chitchat.critic.forces and telephoned by dialling 132.