“ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

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“ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by RobertE » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:39 am

This event just reported from a traveller on the Trip Advisor Tobago forum.

Feb 24, 2013, 11:57 AM

"Just returned home from vacation in Tobago. On the second day of our trip I was walking back to our rented villa on the path that goes from the Arnos Vale beach to the property when I heard someone running behind me.
I turned to see a man with no shirt on running at me screaming. He grabbed at the fishing rod that I had hanging around my shoulder. Seconds later another man with a shirt over his face swinging a club over his head (at first I thought it was a machete) came and pushed me. I didn't fight, gave them the rod and took off running. It was a terrifying experience and I'm very thankful that my wife was not with me.
This was not a night, happened around 5:30 pm, and the beach had people on it. These men obviously watched me fishing on the beach and followed me.
The manager of the villa had to call the police 3 times before they finally agreed to show up and take a report. The police seemed completely disinterested and were more interested in taunting me and my wife with questions like "were you scared?" The cop then told me that it was my fault for going to a "deserted beach".
We left the villa the next day and had to spend over twice as much money a night to stay near Pigeon Point.
If Tobago is serious about tourism, there is no reason that police or at least security guards could not be stationed at the beaches. We didn't realize just how isolated most of the beaches in Tobago are. Someone can assault you or rob you and disappear without a trace into the jungle in seconds.
I would never step foot out of my car anywhere on that island again where there wasn't a crowd of people. After talking to bartenders, and other locals I was shocked to find that this type of attack and crime is commonplace.
Tobago is far too expensive and completely lacking in first world infrastructure to put up with threats like this."

We are travelling to Tobago next week, I was just trying to prepare myself after digesting the Pigeon Point Attack.
We are staying at a place near Pigeon Point and a place near Arnos Vale. This is becoming almost sureal....
I am truly starting to think that I really F****** up in planning a trip to Tobago and bring my family there.

Bob

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Glyn Kirpalani » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:22 pm

This is a disturbing report. In the old "boom" days of tourism, such leeches and lowlife would make a nice living hustling and gigolo-ing the first world ladies who would travel to Tobago and the region looking for some excitement, my best guess is that nowadays tourism has dropped off so much for various reasons and not crime reports alone, that they will brazenly mug you for a fishing rod. The victim clearly did the correct thing and did not resist, it is simply not worth it, so if you follow his lead plus ensure that you drive in your locked rental car to sight-see and visit well-frequented beaches, you ought to be fine. Do not show any first world "bling" like smartfones, ipads etc and do not leave anything in your rental car, even simple stuff like flippers or snorkels etc as well as cameras and obvious stuff - or some unemployed waster may break a window and make off with it. These reports are still rare, but the reports of police uselessness are depressingly familiar. Finally, make sure your resorts have security guards and best of all, dogs, and you should be fine.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by RobertE » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:27 pm

Glyn With all due respect..... What exactly is the point of travelling there?

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Glyn Kirpalani » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:51 pm

Robert that is a highly pertinent question, that may be asked by many considering a Caribbean island vacation, who just want to relax and enjoy new sights and tastes. Clearly many are asking it after some basic research on the web, and booking elsewhere. I was just trying to re-assure you and assist you to make the most of your trip with your family, safely, given that you have already booked.

Back in 2005 when crime really exploded in Tobago and reports started to hit cyberspace, I wrote articles lampooning the useless local government's failure to even attempt to deal with issues, plus my wife and I attended anti-crime rallies etc etc. Like many others including some on here, we predicted the collapse of small-scale and largely dispersed & diverse tourism to Tobago as it was and the eventual existence of tourism only in heavily guarded and fenced all-inclusive resorts, eg the Rex, much like it survives in Jamaica.

Hopefully Steve W, who is visiting Tobago now I think, can report on any current initiatives to deal with tourism-crime and crimes against businesses and business persons, we can only hope that a recent change in the top management of the T&T police will bring some relief - because the useless and self-serving local goverment (THA) has just been re-elected to another term of chaos and mis-management.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Steve Wooler » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:03 pm

Hi Glyn

I truly wish I could offer some words of hope, but sadly I can’t. I had heard nothing of this incident until Robert’s post earlier today and I suspect that all enquiries will draw a blank. Sadly, as you and I know, these robberies do take place. The question is: how often? That is something that we will truthfully never know because here on the ground in Tobago, stories are rife and generally exaggerated with every telling. Before you know it, a simple request by a beggar has become a mass murder.

What we can safely assume is that these incidents do take place, but it would be unfair to describe them as ‘common’. What is more disturbing is the attitude of the authorities to these matters. Tobago has negligible crime compared to Trinidad. The police are controlled by central government in Trinidad, not by Tobago’s local government. Ergo, Tobago hasn’t got a problem and prime resources are focussed on the hot spots in Trinidad. Tobago’s local government (THA) had promised to form a local police force who would concentrate on beach security and other places frequented by tourists. It frankly never stood much chance. They’re remarkably efficient at organising fancy new offices, expensive foreign trips and driving around in presidential-style motorcades, but other than that seem incapable of organising a piss up in a brewery. Sorry, mustn’t forget the wonderful goat racing stadium at Buccoo that is open once a year for a few hours.

My response is bleak but frankly I am struggling to find reason for hope – particularly given the recent election results. The last thing I would do here is report any new initiatives, simply because I know from long experience that there will be lots of talk, but seldom any action. Even when there is action, chances are the project will be abandoned within months because it actually means getting off their overpaid arses and actually doing something – and they haven’t a clue how. As I understand it, every senior member of the THA is/was a career civil servant of one description or another. None of them have any commercial experience. They all know how to spend money (oh boy, don’t they know how) but NONE of them has ever had to generate income. And, anyway, we can’t have their concentration taken away from watching the clock tick until the day they can collect their fat pensions and cash in on all their land and property deals.

I can only close by offering my deepest sympathies go to the guy who got robbed.
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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by RobertE » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:16 pm

I just spoke to the mgmt from the resort we are booked for next week.... this is the resort at Arnos Vale where the above traveller (who was attacked) was staying at, she confirmed it we had a long talk, they are very concerned...
I asked point blank if they would refund our deposit in view of whats happening. she said yes and fully understood our concerns. So with 1 week to go do I try and cancel this whole trip, I honestly dont know what to do at this late stage, booking a holiday...which we all need...at this late stage is going to be difficult , probably expensive.. and time consuming as I always try and research carefully whenever/wherever I travel.

Bob

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Steve Wooler » Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:19 pm

I don't mean to be rude, Robert, but with all respect I have to question why you are asking our advice if you ignore all the reports and reviews about the Arnos Vale Hotel.
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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Glyn Kirpalani » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:38 pm

Robert - from what you mentioned about being booked into a place near Arnos Vale - is it Top O Tobago? My memory is fuzzy but I am sure they used to have big german shepherd tourist-loving bandit-hating dogs roaming the place - if so and if they are still there doing their job, then you will be in the safest resort on the island, as dogs are braver and more honest than human guards, by and large, in any nation. Might be worth checking that - I never heard of any incident in that resort, and due to the heat you can use a vehicle to come and go.

Steve - I had to chuckle at some of what you wrote (better than weeping!). I have some naive and misguided hope that the crach in prices of natural gas and the consequent crash in tax revenues for the central government, might in the longer term lead them to take tourism seriously. But if that does happen, I suspect it will take at least 10-20 years, by which time the tourism might be un-recoverable, like Haiti - which I understand was once the place to visit for the rich and famous, back in the 60s. Sad.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Paul Tallet » Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:57 pm

Well I am sick of reading about all this nonsense ... although I like the sound of Bandit-hating guard dogs ... it would be nice if the Police had the same attitude.

I am out in June with my son, James, who is big, hefty and handy ... his mate, Mad Max, is an amateur boxer and prizefighter and he looks deceptively cute for any speculative bandit ... and then there's me ( I am good at management and I can have medievil thoughts :mrgreen: ) plus there will 2 generally menstrual ladies that guard their purses like they contain the secret to immortality and will stop at nothing to have a good holiday.

Come on you bandits ... bring it on ... anytime, anyplace ... after James, Mad Max and the ladies have finished with you I will decide where to insert the cutlass before I furnish a detailed report to the Police.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Glyn Kirpalani » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:17 pm

LOL Paul, I admire your balls, made of Sheffield Steel no doubt! And women can be scarier than men. Your post reminded me that the bandits do not always win, and I recall the robbery attempt some bandits made on a villa occupied by some retired British Army old soldiers and their wives, while they were liming by the pool. Instead of capitulating when confronted by cutlass wielding bandits in the garden, who snuck from the bushes, the guys picked up some chairs and shielded their wives, beating a retreat into the villa and fending off the bandits. Once the women were safely inside, they went back out armed with golf clubs and beat them off. Sadly, the frustrated robbers became so enraged at losing the engagement that they started throwing stones, from a safe distance, one of which injured one of the tourists eyes, I am unsure how serious it was. But nobody should argue with anyone carrying anything more serious than a cutlass, and even then it would only be worth it if your party is major league tough and capable, and in bigger numbers, as in your case Paul - but is it worth the risk to resist when goods can be replaced?

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Paul Tallet » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:05 pm

Glyn ... it is a matter of principle and not a matter of possessions.

I have booked 2 more holidays to Tobago ... I am not going to cancel them ... but I may very well go elsewhere after that in view of these posts.

So, having committed myself and having been threatened once before a long time ago ... I will be prepared. Tiny little Mad Max will likely see trouble before it starts and they will get knocked out if the ladies don't get stuck in first.

So ... Tobago ... do you want to accept my custom or abuse me? Either way there will be only one winner because there are many other options in the world for a fabulous holiday.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Camille Baker » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:41 pm

I am Camille Baker, the owner and manager of Top O’ Tobago, the villa where the visitor was staying when he was robbed of his fishing rod on his return from Arnos Vale beach.

The incident indeed was very serious. It was the first time in the 17 years of operation of Top O’ Tobago that a resident at Top O’ Tobago was physically threatened. Not only do we invite visitors to the island, our own children and grandchildren use the Arnos vale beach and the path to the beach on a regular basis.

The incident, including the police response, was reported to the Ministry of Tourism, Tobago and to the Tobago Hotel and Tourist Association. They have assured us that they have increased the police and coastguard patrols on the beach, and will consider the requests from the nearby guest accommodation owners to widen and improve the landscaping of the path to the beach. We have also informed all of our guests of the incident so that they can take any action which they deem appropriate.

We are very sorry that a guest at Top O’ Tobago had such a traumatic experience while he was staying with us, and we are doing everything within our capability to make sure that it does not happen again.

For us, Tobago is still one of the best places on earth to live. We plan to make every effort to keep it that way.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Paul Tallet » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:49 pm

Camille

It's not your fault and I know it is embarrassing ... and a guest cancelling a stay at your place is unjustified because they were attacked away from your premises and NOT on your premises.

I am sure you will do everything that you can do but (in my opinion) you need to accept the general consensus in this forum and elsewhere that the THA and the Police are not really doing anything to investigate these incidents or to prevent them.

I have seen some lovely reviews of your premises and I feel bad that you have been associated with this ... I sincerely hope that your visitors keep coming back and supporting your business. I think that my statement also applies to all other businesses in Tobago and I hope you can all get together and put pressure on the powers that be to protect your interests.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Robert T » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:22 am

Paul,

We're on Tobago right now. This is our 9th visit. I literally spend about 8 hours a day fishing all around the island on my own.
So far , knock on wood, without a trouble, but these recent incidents got me and (mostly) my wife a little uneasy so I geared myself up with a machete and it is my companion whenever I pop out for a session. And believe me I wouldn't be afraid to use it if....

Rob

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Steve Wooler » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:19 am

I got back, a couple of hours ago, from trying to check it out.

Apparently, the attack took place within the grounds of the hotel on the pathway leading from the car park. The Arnos Vale Hotel looks increasingly derelict. Nobody seems to know whether it is open or closed. The consensus seems to be that it is only open when they have pre-booked guests – and that is not very often. So, the grounds are often deserted and the gates closed and locked at times. We can assume that when this visitor got robbed, the gates were open. However, even so, it is safe to assume that there would have been a distinct lack of staff around the grounds. A fact the robbers took good advantage of. My information is that this is the second such robbery in that immediate area and it seems fairly clear that both were committed by the same individuals: a pair of lads around 18-years of age. chances are they live in the immediate area.

I appreciate that Arno Vale offers the best snorkelling in Tobago, but whilst this state of affairs exists, I regret that I can only advise visitors to stay away from the hotel, beach and associated area except when in large groups. I suspect that these lads will only go for ‘easy’ targets and rely upon noise, fear and a two-on-one advantage to get what they want. There is no evidence that they are actually violent. However, I am not prepared to stake my name and reputation on that fact, so must advise extreme caution.

RobertE, I am sorry if I sounded harsh and/or gave the impression that I was trying to divert the issue. That is strictly not the case. But PLEASE check out the visitor reports here and on TripAdvisor before committing yourself to the Arnos Vale Hotel. There are lots of excellent self-catering accommodations in the area – including one mentioned in this thread – but the Arnos Vale Hotel is simply not a viable choice.
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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Glyn Kirpalani » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:24 am

Paul, while principles and bravery are admirable qualities, your he-men and he-women A-Team crew is not bullet proof, so I was merely advising you to pick your battles carefully. Guns are so cheap and readily available, how do you know what they may or may not have tucked away in their belt in reserve? That said, if they are half naked and you can quickly overpower them, it might pay - far better to follow government and forum advice and simply minimise the chances of being jumped by avoiding isolated paths in the first place, if unguided. For instance, where I would once visit the Grafton bird sanctuary alone to show friends, nowadays I would book someone like Newton George to accompany us - not because he is a super-hero in particular, but mainly because he would present a far greater likelihood of recognising the perps and of their subsequent conviction, since he will not fly home after any attacks. In other words any local guide (approved guide!) is a huge deterrence against chancers. Sadly, I would be reluctant to take any rural paths or tracks these days - why risk it when there are nice beaches with plenty of folk around and busy carparks or laybys to use. Be safe anyway.

PS: forgot to add that hold-ups of sight-seers away from restaurants etc with guns are extremely rare in Tobago, I never encountered any stories of any - as in this case, the act of surprise and the sight of a hand weapon (cutlass/club/big stick) is almost always enough for the wasters to achieve the results required. But given that some of these guys are pretty strong and handy with a cutlass, I for one would be unlikely to resist. Although my saarf-London wife once stood up to 3 guys with cutlasses, helped by our dog, and gave them a few choice F words and shouting, which stopped them in their tracks long enough for her to flee to safety. But while one would not stroll off the beaten track in Florida, or Brazil etc without a guide, it seems sensible not to do so in any developing country too, eg Tobago.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Paul Tallet » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:19 pm

You do right Rob.

I know I am ranting on about vigilante stuff but that is only because there is no crime prevention, no detection and a lack of security for visitors like us ... so you have to either stay at home or go out and enjoy yourself and take the necessary steps to be alert and protect your security at all times.

I would avoid being on my own but if I had to be, I would definitely take something with me to protect myself.

Glyn, I don't go looking for trouble, I am talking about precautions. I doubt if my group will be approached by attackers and, anyway, I will be approaching Arnos Vale from the sea and will not set foot in the Hotel grounds. I also follow Steve's advice about other dodgy areas such as Back Bay (never been there), King Peters Bay and Plymouth ... I would not visit Englishmans Bay on my own either.

Bit of a shame really.

I am beginning to wonder how many attacks go completely unreported. We have had 2 new high risk areas added to the Map in recent weeks, one being Pigeon Point which was a shock and that was not reported for 3 months.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by Glyn Kirpalani » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:14 pm

Very sensible. But I would not worry about Pigeon Point - from what I have read, it seems the couple may have been departing the resort after the (rapid) onset of darkness, after it was officially closed. Like many, I imagine they stayed around to take some lovely sunset shots of the pier, perhaps. The road in and out does get lonely and even if they were robbed between the inner and outer guard booths as has been reported, the resort is not really fenced so can hardly be called secure. The moral? If you are travelling after darkness falls in Tobago, do it by locked rental car, or stick to busy sidewalks, and at the very least do not cycle along with a megabucks Nikon camera etc with you - it saddens me to write this about Tobago, but such advice is common sense advice which one ought to follow in any developing country of the world, where the gap between haves and have nots is wide - and even in many downtrodden areas of developed countries, eg Liverpool, Chicago, Miami, London and so on.

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by RobertE » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:12 pm

Steve Wooler wrote:I don't mean to be rude, Robert, but with all respect I have to question why you are asking our advice if you ignore all the reports and reviews about the Arnos Vale Hotel.
You are being rude Steve :-) and You are not giving me due respect as I did state in previous posts that my wife and I have travelled extensively all over the world for more than 40years, mostly backpacking and consider us very travel "seasoned" , "streetwise" whatever you would like to call it.
As I also stated in previous posts, I research very carefully before I travel anywhere (ask my wife), I started researching/contributing about trips with Lonely Planet/Thorn Tree forum decades ago and other forums ,travel sites in years since.
I did not say I was staying at the Arnos Vale Hotel.... You "assumed" it I am in fact staying at the Top o Tobago villas, .... I did not wish to communicate where I stay (with my family)in public forums until after we have visited there , especially with the violence happening there.

The status of the Arnos Vale Hotel is clearly detailed on this forum and Trip advisor

I knew there was problems on Tobago before I booked,...it is readily apparent with research.... I have travelled in other areas of the world where crime and danger exists,... I weighed the risks and felt that the Tourist Crime situation in Tobago although bad was not out of control .... Well ..... It is out of control ! I challenge anybody here /Trip Advisor to dispute that.

So I guess after 40 years of planning trips.... I F****** up on this one That happens ...I've done before (thankfully not much).

What has made me much more sensitive about this trip Is that I am bringing my seventeen year old daughter with us, she doesn"t have 40 + years of seasoned travel experience. She/ we love hiking,... exploring beaches ,... we jog ,... we like to meet the residents. That is going to be far more challenging/dangerous here.

Bob

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Re: “ Attacked and Robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach ”

Post by RobertE » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:52 pm

Paul Tallet wrote:Camille

It's not your fault and I know it is embarrassing ... and a guest cancelling a stay at your place is unjustified because they were attacked away from your premises and NOT on your premises.

Regards

I totally disagree with You..... You weren't there when the attack happened.... You dont know the layout of the Top O Tobago grounds... or the path down to the Arnos Vale beach......or the couples reasons for picking that place.
You dont know how traumatized he was by the event... or their impressions for their safety after the police response/lack of.......

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"I was assaulted and robbed off of Arnos Vale Beach by 2 men on February 18th, 2013 and the police didn't think it was a big deal at all.
They didn't even want to show up to take a report. After conversations with locals and bartenders (who always have a feel for a place) I left Tobago feeling that the crime problem is much worse than advertised.
If you're going I would stick by Pidgeon Point and not go anywhere isolated or by yourself.
I'm 34 years old, 6 feet tall, 180 pounds and am in shape and these guys didn't hesitate to come at me with a club in on a path back to my place in Arnos Vale."

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