Irma Aftermath: Tourists Report Looters With Guns and Machetes Stealing From Hotels

It’s incredible to stop and think about how vulnerable we are when we travel, in an unfamiliar place and where travel provider employees have greater local knowledge and access than we do. That’s why it’s especially unsettling for me to read about the room service staffer at the Long Island Marriott who was arrested for stealing $43,000 in jewelry from a guest room.

Plenty of people have access to your room, when you’re there and when you aren’t. Instead of paying your hotel for extra security, you’re paying the hotel and you’re extra vulnerable. Shudder. I can’t say it surprises me though that this happened by the Nassau Coliseum.

Now add in desperation of a force majeure event and a total breakdown in law and order as appears to be happening on St. Maarten in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and travel becomes scarier still.

More than 1200 American tourists were evacuated from the island and ” told stories about hiding in their hotel bathtubs fearing for their lives” as “a gang of men with “long swords” who reportedly showed up at a hotel.”

‘There are people on the streets armed with revolvers and machetes,’ one witness told the Dutch newspaper AD on Friday. ‘The situation is very serious. No one is in charge.’

…Witnesses on the Dutch side of the island say people are roaming the streets armed with ‘revolvers and machetes’ while Rutte said most people are surviving without power and running water.

Here’s a report from a staff member at Simpson Bay Resort.

Here’s a New York National Air Guard C130 flight evacuating people from St. Maarten to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Law enforcement and military on St. Maarten apparently are having to divert from recovery efforts to keep order on the island. That’s frightening.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Hurricane Katrina left New Orleans and surrounding areas in a similar situation. Law enforcement was overwhelmed for months afterward with National Guard heavily supplementing local police.
    I am surprised we haven’t heard similar stories in Harvey’s aftermath.
    Hopefully people aren’t exaggerating the situation in Nassau and hotels will adapt their security just as cruise ships have adapted to pirates. I hate to imagine the changes required to adapt.

  2. People in the core are assholes. Liberals may BS as much as they want but majority of people follow law only when they have the boot of the law pressing down at their throat.

    In fact I think we should just do that. Withdraw law enforcement from a major city for a month. Not Pele that commit violent felonies. After one month catch them and execute them.

    The world had too many people who don’t get enough to eat. We don’t need to spend money trying to rehabilitate assholes.

  3. Why would anyone head to the islands for a vacation when they know a hurricane is heading that way? How stupid is that?

  4. @leef33,
    You haven’t heard similar stories after Harvey because even criminals in Texas aren’t stupid enough to loot. The result would be the looters being shot dead by the owners. As a result, you wouldn’t see them on TV loading up shopping carts with Nikes and beer.

  5. Yup, good reason to evacuate when you have the chance (or just avoid the hurricane belt during Sept-Oct). Because nothing good can really come from staying.

  6. I might add this tells you something about the character of a city/country. You didn’t see armed looters at hotels in Cabo after the hurricane, just a few people ransacking markets who were desperate for food.

  7. Why is anyone surprise when locals go jungle, where there are no enforcement around. Ask yourself this , why is this island a bargain to vacation why is Singapore expensive as hell, why are all of you budget vacationers in a s..t hole country where the novel lord of the flies appears right in front of your eyes.. think , what happens when the have nots have a chance for payback.. god help hapless travelers .

  8. This sort of stuff can happen anywhere and we create movies that even show scenarios like this. The main reason it is worse in some areas is a combination of low morals, poverty, lack of good (normal conditions) law enforcement and gun ownership percentages. So take Harvey for example. Texas and Houston have excellent law enforcement. There are decent morals for a big city and many people own guns.

Comments are closed.