Business Owners Wrong To Chastise Cockayne

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To the Editor,

This letter is addressed to the business owners and property owners of St. John, USVI.

In response to the recent letters from business owners complaints regarding Mrs. Cockayne’s rambling letters, I say, “tough.” I can not imagine her anguish with the community and the law enforcement system of St. John, after the murder of her son.

This is what I know — regardless of the circumstances and events of the night of the murder, her son was murdered on St. John. You, the business owners and property owners of St. John have a huge crime problem, and you are the only people responsible to fix it if you don’t want to continue to see crime, and the increasing severity of the types of crime, continue to grow on St. John.

I have subscribed to Tradewinds for about 20 years, since having owned land on St. John in the early 80s and 90s. The property in Fish Bay was sold several years ago, after which I returned to the island to purchase other property during the late 90s and early 2000. My dates may not be exact, but the reasons that I did not purchase additional property are exact — the increasing rate and severity of crime on St. John. Being a subscriber to Tradewinds gave me the opportunity to see St. John from the outside, and what I saw was very disturbing to me.

Crime had begun to rise shortly before the property was sold. The type of crime at the time consisted mostly of breaking and entering. However, these crimes were committed openly and in many cases with “arms” (i.e. guns). They were happening all over the island, including higher-end properties while occupied by the owners, tenants and tourists. Of course, I was concerned, and to make a long story short, I decided not to purchase additional property on St. John until I saw how the crime scene played itself out.

Unfortunately, due to the lax law enforcement system on the island, the situation only got worse, up until the several murders of the last couple of years, ending more recently with the murder of Mrs. Cockayne’s son.

The bottom line is that you may be tired of reading her letters, but if you as a community don’t band together to address the crime, and the subsequent enforcement of your existing laws, including criminal penalties, for all of the crimes committed on St. John, then your island will continue to lose potential visitors and potential property owners like myself, while some of your residents may pick up and leave the island.

You, the business owners and property owners on the island may want to avoid a negative image problem, but more importantly, since you already have a huge criminal problem, you need to figure out how to address it, and resolve it together.

After about 20 years of still feeling “tied” to the island of St. John through my Tradewinds subscription, I am sad to say that after a lot of thought over the last several months and long before the murder of Mrs. Cockayne’s son, I have decide not to renew my subscription. I do, and will, however, have fond memories of the many, many visits to the island and wish you all the best of luck in addressing your problems. My heart goes out to Mrs. Cockayne, and to all of you who make the island of St. John your home, while you all live through these difficult times.

Respectfully, Rick Hamlin,
Dennisport, MA