Safety in Dominican Republic

I found my pepper spray.  Thanks to those who offered suggestions that led me to the right area. There are several gun shops on Ave Francia near Caribbean Tours in Santo Domingo. It is a one way street parallel to 27 de Febrero on the South side. I only went in one store but I assume others have it also.

I was walking in one of the parks with a group of 15 people. One couple got behind the group and was robbed by young men with machetes. The ladies purse was stolen. There are several obvious lessons here regarding being street smart and what to do and not do. The couple were new here and first time in the group.

I have also witnessed an armed robbery of someone in my apartment building about a year ago.  They had a cash business and carried home large amounts of cash. Really not smart. They lost nearly $10,000 USD. Someone told the bad guys, one day they drove up, cut the guy off in front of our building, two guys jumped out with guns and stole the sachel full of cash. Gone in 60 Seconds.

Yes one needs to be "smart" and use common sense.  Lots of crime here are crimes of opportunity.  Sooooo don't give them the opportunity :D

Bob K

Most crime is an inside job. Vary your routine, be careful who you trust, don't carry a lot of cash!

Hard lesson but be VERY careful who you let in your house!!

So true about your house and letting people in.

We have been here over 9 years and most folks we know do even know where we live.

Bob K

This is truly great advice. It sucks I feel so anxious about traveling back home. Born in Santo Domingo raised in New York you would think I would have some street smarts but I don't. Also I have little ones which made me a sucker, I always fear for them. I inherent a first floor apartment in arroyo Hondo, santo domingo is that a "good" place or should I sell and buy somewhere else.

Arroyo Hondo is considered one of the better areas. But, remember there are pockets of good and bad everywhere!

Yes Planner this is true. I hope is in the ok area, only because is a 1st floor.

okay...moved over here from my Cabrera specific post...what strikes me a particularly the violent nature of the deaths and the similarity to the dutch woman a couple years ago...and since the double homocide another older expat woman has gone missing ...and it seems foul play was involved...these people have lived there for over 10 years...Cabrera seemed such a small town...but those are some big town deaths...i guess I'm glad gun violence hasn't proliferated yet...were they making themselves targets? I some how doubt it since they lived there for a while

You would be amazed at what can make you a target, Things such as $$, jewels, drugs, love triangles, revenge from an accident or cheating someone, temper,  and on and on.

I am still convinced that if you fly under the radar, keep a low profile, follow the "rules" and such that you will avoid problems.  In 10 years here I know of no one who was a victim of a violent crime who did not "screw" up.

Bob K

Hate to rain on all the safety cheers, but what about that German tourist who was shot on the Malecon in front of his wife last Thursday? Did they think it was safe to leave their hotel and walk around? And not even 24 hours later a couple walking along the same area with their tourist guide got robbed. I also believe there is a member on here who told his own story about getting stabbed near the Malecon in an attempted robbery.....Let's be responsible folks.....The hotel tells these folks to stay in for a reason......not every one is visiting from a city or town where these sort of things happen on a regular, so sending some of these unsuspecting tourist out there with no real preparation, is like sending a baby to swim with sharks.  I simply don't think everyone is ready to handle life outside the resort wall......If you have not had to live in that sort of environment, it is simply not safe.

Often we set ourselves up as targets by the people we associate with. Here who you are with is who  you are.  You need to be very very aware of who you associate with

AND yes you are correct,  there is random opportunistic crime here -  like almost everywhere else in the world.  You must be careful and even then sometimes you are a victim.

Does that mean  everyone should stay in their hotel - NO.  But not everyone should venture out either.

You are far more likely to die in an accident on your way to or from your hotel on arrival and departure. That also does not mean you should not visit. But you  should not try to drive until you understand how things are here.

That man on the Malecon who was killed - horrible horrible  story!  That poor man's wife as well,  apparently she watched it happen. One of the perpetrators is dead and they know who the second is!

I agree with you 100% planner....not everyone should venture out until they know and understand what to expect.  I believe most folks have a very romanticized view of the Caribbean, they see the nice beaches, the palm trees, and friendly faces, so why would they expect anything bad to happen to them? Most tourist usually feel they will be protected and secure while on vacation which contributes to a false sense of security.
       I would never tell anyone not to visit D.R. because from my own experiences it is an amazing place to explore, but I do warn of the possible risks which abound due to drugs, prostitution, income inequality, etc. I believe it would be quite irresponsible of me to send someone out blind to some of those realities.

I know some folks like to compare one Island as more or less dangerous as the next, but that matters very little when you end up the victim.  Sometimes we have to call it like we see it....You can tell crime is on the rize when prominent figures in wealthy neighborhoods are being affected and not only the folks in the barrio, the newspapers have been filled lately with well known celebrity figures who have been robbed lately..,,heck the minister of interior defense Monchy Fadul's sister had her chained snatched from her neck as she was sitting on her porch relaxing one sunny afternoon.......If the main guy who is in charge f security can't even guarantee his own sister's safety.....then we have a problem folks.  The sooner we admit there is a real issue with safety, perhaps we can manage it.
     Indeed it was very sad what happened to the tourist, no one should have to depart in such a tragic manner, but from reports being printed, it is being said the suspect who was killed was not the real perpetrator....turns out he worked at Playa Dorada as an artisan and tattoo artist on the beach, and his boss and coworkers said he could not have possibly murdered the tourist since he was working that day doing tattoos for tourist on the beach,,,,,If this turns out to be true, then we know have 2 tragedies and not one. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Massagwiz... Quite right, most gringos are profoundly naive. If they own a property they often (overpay)a local guy as a guard, or maybe a Haitian with a machete. Usually these guys just sleep all nite and run away when the armed buglers show up, or are in collusion with them.  The only safe places, or let's say the safest, are those gated places with several armed guards on duty.

I totally agree with you.

I have friends who live in Mulata (ungated) but they about 12 dogs so they are relatively safe.
What about the beaches from say Sosua to Cabarete and beyond, are they relatively OK?  When ever I've walked along those beaches it's always felt OKish!  There is lovely stretch of beach along  ( what used to be Sol del Plata) until the company bankrupt.  You can walk along there and hardly see a soul.  Some of the locals live in some of the empty houses and there are plenty of those around.

In reality no one is completely safe, we take chances getting out of bed.

Be smart, Don't flaunt anything, be careful who you are with, where you go, keep your wits about you always!!!

As for the guy who was killed having an alibi, well that is common too!  They are always saints after the fact.  Let's see what comes out as this moves forward.

> I also believe there is a member on here who told his own story about getting >stabbed near the Malecon in an attempted robbery

Yeah that was Moi :-) 
Still alive and kicking as they say :-)
Well nothing happened since then, -think was case of wrong place at wrong time scenario-usually  always keep low profile and pretend I am poor Gringo, with just enough to live on, guess  that does help,
But to the dumb  thugs - Gringo equals money-, so the risk is always there no matter how discreet you are.
Of course crime is everywhere not just DR,, but compared to when I first came here some years ago, the situation does seem to be getting worse.
Tourists getting shot down in broad daylight was pretty much unheard of then   now its getting far more prevalent .  I still remember that other poor German gunned down in La Sirena car park not so long ago. And sometimes we forget Doms suffer just as much as we do with crime. maybe even more , virtually every Dominican friend I know has been robbed of mobiles,etc -sometimes twice! And still recall that poor security guard also shot in broad daylight in PP and lots of local businesses robbed at gunpoint.

Well, Sosua is fairly safe with a good Police presence, but PP I avoid  like the plague these days.  I see they replaced the police chief in PP, so maybe he will be more competent but wont hold my breath!

Cabarete is safer now due that that Canadian guy who has done a good job there with his anti-crime initiative But even there bad things can still happen that elderly Canadian lady who disappeared recently and is believed murdered She knew the local area and apparently lived there for years with no problems. But that did not save her. She had a Jeep,,mobile phone, ...that was enough reason for the thugs to kill her!
Well people say keep low profile and dont go out at night etc,,,but way I see it if people are scared to go out at night,, which many are these days, then the quality of life has diminished !
Well of course you can get robbed anywhere, Berlin, London, Barcelona, ,etc  but the difference here is the local thugs are utterly ruthless and will kill you at the slightest resistance, killing is always the first choice for them.
I mean that poor German was 76 I believe,  what threat was he to  two fit young thugs?, But they killed him without a seconds hesitation or shred of mercy!
What a sad way to end your life, going on a sunshine holiday and end up dead in the gutter by this criminal scum !

Many thanks for that reply.  I will remain positive but vigilent.

Glad to hear nothing else has happened since.....Be safe out there amigo. Good tips on flying under the radar.....I hope future readers take the suggestions seriously :cool:

Yes we all hope for that!   And we all hope to stay safe!!!!

The question I keep asking myself as I read these posts, is how is this any different than anywhere else?  I don't live in the DR and have very little experience there, so maybe I just really do not understand the difference.  Additionally, when I was there, I was always surrounded by locals who looked out for me and none of us ever went anywhere by ourselves, not even to walk a block down the street to go to the small grocery store. 

At home in the states, I live in a relatively safe, middle class area.  I've lived in the same house for 20 years.  I know my neighbors to wave, but none of us have anything to do with each other.  For the most part, we keep an eye out for each other, yet in the last 5 years there have been 3 burglaries that have taken place during the day, sometimes even while the people were home and no one saw anything.  Some criminals can be very cunning and slick.  Additionally, about 7 years ago, within a 10 min walk of my house, there was an in-home murder that took place during the night while the children slept.  The 3 year-old was actually the one who found her mother's slain body.  A year ago, about  a 15 minute drive from here, same scenario, only this time it was an 8 year girl who found her mother's body.  My son's first grade teacher, who lives 20 minutes from us, her son was kidnapped, tortured and murdered about 5 years ago.  He had just turned 18.  His captors and murderers were "friends" from school.

We ALWAYS keep our doors and windows locked, even when at home.  We have a dog who is territorial so her barking alerts us to be aware.  We set our alarm system when away and at night, but still none of this is a guarantee that we won't be robbed, raped or murdered.  If fact, in my lifetime, my home (wherever it may have been at the time) has been robbed 3 times.  My husband is a small business owner, he's been robbed so many times we can't even recall the number.  His business mailbox is routinely broken into and at one point in time they counterfeited a $10k business check, which did clear the bank.  We had to wait 3 months to get the money back.  Identify theft is rampant, and violent crime in the US is EVERYWHERE!  There is no escaping it, no matter where you live, no matter where you work, you're personal safety is always at risk.  Just recently, less than 5 miles from my house, an in-home invasion took place.  They kicked in the door, which was dead bolted, in the middle of the day.  This is a relatively affluent area where the per capita income is over $62K a year, and this kind of stuff happens routinely.  Children are shot or kidnapped playing outside their homes.

We do have weapons in our home and my husband has a carry and conceal permit.  He has purchased a class for me to attend, which I've yet to register for, so I can get mine as well.  When our children are of legal age, we'll make sure they're armed as well.  Regardless of where you live, the world is a dangerous place.  Tourists are killed on the streets of the US regularly.  A few years ago, my children and I were on a tour bus in Manhattan.  We were stopped at a stop light when a crazy man walked up to the bus and starting bashing out the buses windows with a baseball bat.  At first we didn't know what happened. We thought someone was shooting, so we hit the floor.  About two years ago, my daughter was playing in a golf tournament when FBI agents, with guns drawn, came running down the path yelling, "get down."  They were chasing some guy who ran out onto the green just as one of the girls in the tournament was getting ready to putt.  The agents ended up taking the man down on the green within just a few feet of her.  BTW, the tournament was being played at one of the areas prestigious country clubs.  Turns out the guy had just robbed a bank that was about 1/4 mile away.

Keep in mind, we are college educated, middle class, self-employed people living in an affluent area.  So, this is why I ask the question of how is it any different in the DR?  Is it because there is more government corruption and less of a justice system?  What makes it so different from where I live now?

Oh, and one last thing I'd like to add, the incidents I've recounted here are all things that have happened in the not too distant past, this does not include all the craziness I encountered as a child growing up in a large NE city.  I always say, it is ONLY by the grace of God that I am even alive.  I praise God everyday for saving me and protecting me from some of the situations I found myself in as a kid when I literally did not have any sense.

P.S. Although my husband and I are very careful about who knows where we live, or who we invite to our home, you NEVER know, especially with google maps so readily available these days.  We've had a drunk employee show up at our door in the middle of the night...scary....

Wow you make the point I have tried to express- it is everywhere.

One difference - justice is often very swift!  Corruption is rampant and those with money can get away with almost anything.

When people express the notion that 'it's the same everywhere', does that mean that in your gringo countries you also have bars on all windows and doors and massive wall so found your houses topped with razor wire and broken glass, etc? I don't think so, but rather, it's just another of the rationalizations that so many gringos make here.  It just another of the prices we pay for being here, much greater danger.

I call bull crap on that. Taking precautions is smart! 

No one says it is the same, we are saying it is dangerous in many many places, including many places here! 

There are places here where it's is very safe as well but most expats don't want to live in the campo.

I have always lived in predominantly Dominican neighborhoods without issue!

Actually, in my humble opinion, yes, you are seeing more and more of this in the US.  There are gated communities, with security guards at the entrance in every state and in every community.  A walled, gated home was just built down the street from me.  It's becoming more and more common for people to install security cameras on their property. In fact, with the influx of illegal immigrants from 3rd world countries, drug lords and terrorists, I totally expect to see more and more of this in my lifetime.  Putting bars on your windows is actually a very effective way to keep people out and you do find this in part of the US.  If you doubt me, I'd be happy to send pictures.

CW:  That is true, the US is indeed becoming more like a third world country in that manner too.  It just still isn't the norm.......yet.

Wow! I think I'll be safer moving to the DR after reading this.

My intention has not been to turn the conversation toward the US or any other country for that matter, but merely to point out the world, regardless of where you live,  is inherently a dangerous place.  There are criminals, crazies,  corruption and desperate people every where.  My goal is to understand how does living in the DR and dealing with this side of mankind differ from living in some other country.  I assume the dfferences are cultural and that's what I'm trying to understand.

For instance,  planner stated that justice is often swift. .. that leads me to believe that "justice" can be, or is, vigilante and or arbitrary, which leads me to believe, especially as a gringo, that there may be no protection for me  under the law.  To me, that is if greater concern than being robbed. If I don't have equal protection under the law then I'm fair game.

In actual fact you have protection under the law and if you have money you can afford a lawyer.  Instant justice is when the police track down killers and shoot before asking questions, when neighbours  interrupt a robbery and  chase them down and beat the crap out of them.....etc.

Heck, I once beat the crap out of someone who robbed my house...... that was a loooong time ago though.

The difference between U.S. Canada, Europe....etc and D.R. is that you are more likely to not deal with a corrupt justice system, and as many corrupt cops.  Many of the criminal acts commited often involve police officers or their weapons which were either stolen or rented out to commit crimes. As an outsider in D.R. You are also more likely to be charged just for being and outsider and the perception as having money. The safety issue I can't agree with being the same everywhere. There are many countries which have very low crime incidents, but the problem in D.R. Is financial inequality, lack of opportunity, drugs, low level education, and corruption at the highest levels. If you put all this in a pot, you are more likely to see an increase in crime levels.  Bad things can happen to anyone on the planet at any time, that is why as planner said, you must take precautions to ensure your safety.  Every country has it's own beast!  Just be sure to know. What you are up against! :cool:

It seems the youngman who was initially killed by officers while looking to solve the German Tourist murder, had nothing to do with the incident at all. He was a tattoo artist working at Playa Dorada. He was a deportee from the U.S. who was looking to turn his life around and get a fresh start. Here is the shooter and his accomplice.  May that young man rest in peace. In addition to the other problem you are more than likely to face in D.R. Is Keystone cops! Not the most competent.....and that has nothing to do with being third world! Once again! Low pay....Low motivation. … ta-aleman/ … rto-plata/

These are the 2 delinquents!
Not this guy. … -tatuajes/

I can't say that I know as much about other nations financial machinations, but I pretty much suspect that banks and private institutions are the prime contributors to the conditions which arise in most of these nations; Heck here in the U.S. we are still being held hostage by the Federal Reserve act signed by then President Woodrow Wilson in 1913 where he pretty much handed over the keys to the Hen house to the Fox! It is just a matter of time before the U,S, starts to look similar to those countries which we love to vacation in, but often would not dare to live due to the high levels of inequality.....That is pretty much the reality of many Caribbean Nations and Human Nature. If you have something that I need and there is no real vehicle for me to get it, then I will take it from you,,,,,that is simply survival 101 when push comes to shove, and as you can see by the outsiders who are often the targets of attacks, they are usually seniors who are obviously easy targets. Young vs Old, it is as simple as that.

Unfortunately that website is not always correct.  I will try to corroborate this report from other sources.

Would this be a more credible source?

El Caribe National newspaper? … erto-plata

Yup it is. Now where does it say the police killed the wrong guy? There were two of them and they arrested one according to the link.

just when I have been re-evaluating our choice of Cabrera for future retirement and yearly visits with my children...some crazy guy here in Michigan goes on a seemingly random killing spree...there's not really a 'safe' place anywhere, is there?

safety is a perception dealing in statistics

No I agree there is no safe place, there are a lot of beautiful places and nice places to live but there is no guarantee they will be safe all the time. My Husband accepted a great job offer in Mississippi in a fairly small town and we moved here in Oct from FL after living there 11 years, I was hired at the same company and we figured it will be short time living here until we move to DR in 1-1/2 years. Just 2 weeks ago a 43 yr old woman was shot five times and kiiled while working at a convenient store/gas station that I have stopped in a few times on the way to work. Thank God the two young punks were both arrested. But my point is you can't worry yourself everyday and not follow your dreams because of crime....all you can do is be aware of your surrondings and distance yourself from areas you don't feel comfortable. Any place you Google will have good and bad about it.

Very well said!!!!

Well said and so true.

Shit happens no matter where you are.  All  you can do is minimize your chances.

Bob K

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