It’s official: Robert MacLeod – a 44-year-old citizen of Niagara Falls – will be facing jail time for his vicious attack, robbery and sexual assault of a Japanese tourist just a few blocks away from the world-famous Niagara Falls tourist attraction. What happened? On Christmas night 2015, MacLeod lured a Japanese woman seeking directions to a dark area of the state park. He then threw her to the ground and stole her purse and shoes. State parks police were able to identify Robert Macleod as the attacker. They tracked him down, because of video surveillance cameras, showing him following the victim in his car as she walked from her hotel, and stalking her on foot prior to the attack. MacLeod was indicted on charges of robbery, sexually motivated felony, sexual abuse and assault. He was arrested Dec. 31, 2015. MacLeod pleaded not guilty and was released on $25,000 bail.
But fortunately the story didn’t end here. The Japanese tourist returned to the place where the man she’d asked for directions responded by pounding her face into the concrete and dragging her into the dark, where she feared she would be raped. She came back, because testifying would make Niagara Falls safer for other women. During a news conference yesterday, authorities praised the tourist’s bravery and said they were happy to pay the travel costs to bring her back to the U.S.
Crimes against tourists are nothing new. Thieves preferably target travelers, mostly for valuables, like in almost any other tourist destination. The advantage seems obvious. Tourists from far-away-countries would leave the location, and not come back to testify. Bad luck. In this case authorities in charge facilitated the return to Niagara County of a victim who lives half way around the world.
Despite what happened, local officials insist the area near the Niagara Falls is safe. Serious crimes against tourists are actually very rare. Since 2014 only nine serious crimes against tourists have been reported. But imagine 8+ million people visiting this top-tourist destination each year.