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Spate of Crimes on East End Has People Worried

Aug. 16, 2004 – An armed robbery late Sunday afternoon on St. John's remote East End is the latest in a string of robberies and burglaries and what the police euphemistically call home invasions that has island residents on edge.
"We're getting a camera and photographing every car that comes up this road," East End resident Terry McKoy said on Monday.
McKoy lives near the couple whose Sunday afternoon peace was shattered when two armed and masked black men entered their home, bound them with duct tape and made off with their money.
The couple could not be reached for comment.
McKoy said a neighbor saw a white Suzuki Sidekick with a bashed-in side that is believed to have been driven by the assailants sitting along the road on Sunday afternoon. Another saw it speed by shortly after the robbery.
Jean Cottrell is another East End neighbor who's now worried. She said her house is hard to close up tight.
"We've never felt afraid," she said. "This in not what we moved to St. John for."
Cottrell she said that while she has been activating her alarm system at night all along, she's now considering doing the same thing during the day.
As word of the latest home invasion spread, other residents said they are locking their doors during the daylight hours.
McKoy acknowledged that the East End isn't alone in its crime problems.
Sunday's armed robbery comes on the heels of another at Concordia Eco-tents. Maggie Day, general manager at Concordia and Maho Bay Camps, said that two men wearing ski masks and carrying guns accosted a couple last Wednesday night. She said the woman was pregnant.
Day said the man and woman were walking back to their tent around 11 p.m. after having parked their car on the road above the Eco-tents site.
She said the robbers had loosened the light bulb in a motion-sensor light to keep the area in the dark. After robbing the pair, they told them to keep walking and not to look back, she said.
"The atmosphere is now fear," Day said. "It was such a peaceful atmosphere."
And about three weeks ago, a mid-island resident woke in the middle of the night to find an intruder in her bedroom. She screamed and the man fled.
She and her husband called the police, who took two hours to arrive. The woman, who did not want her name used, said the officers told her she lived too far from Cruz Bay and they had difficulty finding her house, although the woman said she had given clear directions. "It was pathetic," she said.
St. John Administrator Julien Harley said on Monday that one crime on St. John is one crime too many. "What can be done to nip it in the bud?" he wondered, fearful that St. John could become as crime ridden as St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Harley said he's on the Police Department's case about the East End and Concordia incidents, as well as others.
The Concordia and East End armed robberies occurred following a Police Department public meeting on Aug. 9 in Cruz Bay that was aimed at polishing up the public's opinion of the department and its personnel.
Sgt. Thomas Hannah, police spokesman, said on Monday morning that he would try to get some information about the incidents, but did not call back. A message left on the cellular phone of St. John Deputy Police Chief Angelo Hill at mid-day also was not returned.
Bob Carmody of Maho's New York office said the word is out stateside about the Concordia incident. He said he received a phone call from a Boston Globe reporter. Additionally, a Web site that gets lots of traffic from people seeking first-hand information about Virgin Islands vacations carries anecdotal information about the Concordia armed robbery.
Day and others said the Police Department needs to have an officer stationed in Coral Bay until the planned police station there is built. Day said the police got to Concordia as fast as they could, but it took 45 minutes.
"Just put a car there until we get this resolved," she said.
Harley asked that people not satisfied with the Police Department's response to a situation call his office at 776-6484.

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