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Thread: Robbery at Bellevue

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Robbery at Bellevue

    My husband's account of our robbery - please everyone keep windows and doors locked anytime you are not there or awake, and keep your valuables in the bedroom with you and your bedroom door locked! linda


    A week ago today, my wife, Linda, and I were on the island of Bonaire and awoke around 4 am to find that during the night thieves had broken in, entering through one of our second story apartment windows, and had stolen our two laptops, a Nikon D200 digital SLR camera with a 12-25 mm zoom lens, a smaller camera and Linda's iPhone.

    All these items were on the table in the living room - dining room area of the apartment. We called the police who arrived within minutes.
    After an examination of our apartment we noted that the thieves did not take our wallets, cash, passports, my Subal underwater housing (which I use to house the D200), Linda's Sony video camera and Light-and-Motion housing. Fortunately, another Nikon SLR, a D800, and its zoom lens were tucked away in acabinet and my iPhone was on my bed stand. Only the bedroom in the apartment is air conditioned so Linda and I slept with our bedroom door closed. Because of the steady hum of the air conditioner, and because both of us were pleasantly pretty tired after two good long dives the previous day, neither one of us heard the thieves as they were doing their work. In retrospect, this was a good thing - more on that.

    We told the police that the three doors in our apartment were locked with dead bolts. We were staying at the Bellevue apartments located oceanside in Belnem Bonaire. The apartment we were renting for this two-week trip is located on the second floor (first floor above ground floor in local parlance) and has several windows on the south side of the building. The main entry door is on the street side of the building along with a door to a small balcony, also on the street side. A sliding door leads to a large balcony on the ocean side, west side, of the building. None of the doors had a key in the lock when the break in took place. All the windows have screens that can be opened inward to access the latches closing the windows. We had the west-most window on the south wall opened slightly. This is the window the thieves used and that window is in the living room - dining room area.
    Two reasonably agile people can easily help each other to reach the oceanside balcony of the apartment and use the narrow ledge below the windows to gain entry. We realized this, of course, after the fact.

    Despite the fact that the street side of the building is gated, one can easily unlatch the gate or climb over the gate to reach the oceanside of the building. We discussed this with the police when we went outside the building. The two male police offers who answered our call were friendly and sympathetic. We told them that one of the reasons we were careful to dead bolt lock our doors was that shortly after we first arrived at the Bellevue on this trip, one of the guests told us that their ground floor apartment had been broken into and thieves stole their computers and all their cash. They did say that they had left their door open. They were not in the building at the time.
    '
    Before we called the police, Linda noticed a t-shirt on the couch in the living room that was not one of ours but presumably left by one of the thieves. The police noted this in their report, along with other information we provided. Before leaving the police asked us to come to the police station in Kralendijk to read and sign the final report. The police left at 6 am and we went to the police station about 3 hours later. We met with a female officer who translated the Dutch language in the police report. The report was reasonably accurate and we signed it and received a copy. Another female officer, a member of the forensics team, followed us back to the apartment where she examined the entry site inside and outside of the apartment and carefully bagged the t-shirt using rubber gloves. She seemed reasonably sure that the DNA report could point to someone in their records. The following day we re-visited the police station to give the police contact information of a local friend and to get the phone numbers and email address for their office. We talked to another female officer, who like her female colleagues was sympathetic, helpful and very competent

    Before we visited the police station after the robbery we contacted two close friends on the island by email and within an hour or so one called us and the other visited us. Their strong support was pretty important to Linda and me. We were both pretty upset and angry by what had transpired. Both also offered to let us stay in their homes for the remainder of our stay. We chose to remain in our apartment but we were touched by their generosity and concern.

    Later in the day we met with the property manager at Sunbelt Realty (managers of Bellevue) who had been our point-of-contact prior to arriving on Bonaire. She was clearly sympathetic but seemed to be unaware of how porous their security at Bellevue really is. In addition, there are no alarms, no security cameras and no security patrolling at night. We advised her that it might be useful for them to warn incoming guests in person or in their welcome material to be vigilant about potential break-ins and to dead bolt lock all doors and latch windows at night or when leaving the apartment. We can understand not putting this information on websites but given that robberies are apparently pretty prevalent, they need to be more pro-active in addressing this issue.

    This was our 16th visit to Bonaire and we were into day 12 of our trip when this event occurred. Since 2009 we have been making two visits to Bonaire per year - two-week stays each in January and in July. This was our third visit to Bellevue and prior to that we had five visits to the Bellafonte - also oceanside and about one mile south of the airport. Prior to that we stayed at Eden Beach. This was our first robbery. We have had no robberies in the past, either with our housing or with our pick-up truck while shore diving. But it seems that the robbery situation is getting worse - for example the two robberies at Bellevue within two weeks during our recent stay. Earlier this year our friend's pizza restaurant experienced a robbery after closing involving two attackers wearing ski masks and armed with machetes. Our friend's business partner and one of the employees were confronted and the thieves stole the partner's vehicle. Luckily no one was hurt.

    As mentioned earlier, upon reflection Linda and I were glad that we did not hear the thieves while they were in our apartment. Those thieves were on high alert and had we heard some noise and left our bedroom, one or both of us would have been groggy and confused. Since all the doors were locked and the thieves entered through the window, who knows what the cornered thieves would have done. We would have been at a total disadvantage from every point of view, including being at a physical disadvantage - the thieves being much younger than either us. In talking to others about our experience, we heard about cases where thieves used chloroform on their victims or beat them up.

    When we talked to the property manager about our experience and I mentioned that danger we were in, being present in the apartment while the thieves were doing their thing, the manager took issue with that characterization. We challenged her on that but that told us that perhaps the property managers throughout the island don't truly appreciate the potential danger to their guests. It was also telling that when we made our second visit to the police station and talked to the female officer about when we might hear any news. Linda asked her about how long it would take to have DNA results from the t-shirt found at the crime scene. Her response - "when I got robbed, it took about six weeks for the DNA results." Apparently Bonaire thieves are equal opportunity attackers.

    We will likely return to Bonaire because we love the diving and our wonderful friends. But we will do our due diligence in exploring for a safer place to stay.
    Last edited by ModRoy; 08-01-2013 at 06:45 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Paragraphs would be helpful.

  3. #3
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    thom I agree I could not even get through the whole thing ..Very hard to read.... I will try again in the morning when my eyes are fresh//
    Last edited by ModFreddie; 08-01-2013 at 04:20 AM.
    Freddie




    When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.

  4. #4
    randl's Avatar
    randl is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
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    Freddie and Thom, I read every word. I think I would write quite a bit if this had happened to me and my family and I would hope Forum members would receive it with understanding of their situation.

    These folks are regular visitors who love Bonaire and plan to keep visiting - just like the rest of us. But these robberies pose a genuine risk and visitors must be aware and plan accordingly. Alarms, locks, cameras and property management committed to security are all necessary whether you're in NYC, Belnem, Sabadeco or anywhere else.

  5. #5
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    ok that is a little easier to read....


    I am sorry that you experienced this after all these years on island.... but I am glad that you both are physically ok.... I am sure it left a bad taste in your mouth.... We used to bring small alarms for the doors but I guess we got comfortable and have not done that for a while.... Looks as if I will renew my stash of alarms for our up coming trip however.. they take up practically no room in the luggage and are not heavy...
    Freddie




    When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.

  6. #6
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    I'm also sorry to read about your robbery experience, but glad to see the Police response has improved greatly from previous years.
    Coming from the Alarm industry I do know there's quite a few travel alarms around and would hope that would be enough to scare off any such intruders.

    I read the whole report before Freddie restructured with paragraphs, but certainly found it hard going. The problem with the formatting was probably due to the document being pre-written in Word and then pasted in the "Post Reply" box, which is certainly recommended when posting long Trip Reports that may get 'lost'/disappear just before you hit enter.

    But us Mods are quite happy to help out when required.
    PRA & ET Inc
    Proof Readers Anonymous & Extreme Testers

  7. #7
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    Thanks Freddie for the reformating, much easier to read now.

    Sorry for your loss and nice to hear the cops are stepping up their game.
    Last edited by ModRoy; 08-02-2013 at 01:54 AM. Reason: Freddie did it, I just took out the last bit of Formatting code
    And Jerry said, Keep it light, Keep it friendly. Post Like Jerry.

  8. #8
    kob's Avatar
    kob is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
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    ldzierba -- thanks very much for taking the time to post such a thorough report. Sorry for your loss & your experience. Agree with others that it seems the police are responding appropriately. As regular visitors to Bonaire and homeowners, I guess we'll have to 1) ask our rental agents at REMAX to warn our renters about keeping things secure, and 2) look into investing in some type of alarm system.

    Thanks again for sharing and sorry for your experience.
    KOB
    PADI CD-159014
    KOBScuba.com
    Lighthouse Beach Resort #32

  9. #9
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    Sorry to hear about what happened to you. Glad that you weren't hurt physically. Thanks for posting about what happened to you. Visitors to the island need to be aware .

  10. #10
    coldwaterlloyd Lurker

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    Thanks for the detailed report .
    Between crime and dengue I am starting to wonder if I will ever return .
    I did a week on the Aqua Cat liveaboard this year and found it totally relaxing . No locks no problems .
    I love Bons shore diving but the obstacles are not worth it .
    The brazen criminal activities on Island are absurd . Too many years of locals and police turning a blind eye to the problem .

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