Thieves working overtime in Clarendon amid COVID-19 pain

ROBBERS of various kinds are running rampant throughout Clarendon and frustrating citizens, forcing them to appeal to the police to step up their surveillance mechanisms and change their methods of patrolling.

Taxi operator Robert Sewell shared with the Jamaica Observer last week, during a visit to Palmer’s Cross in Clarendon, that his house has been robbed twice since the start of 2021, the more recent being the previous week Thursday while he was transporting passengers. He shared that armed hoodlums usually break into people’s homes while they are at work in the daytime, and steal goats and other animals at night-time.

“The crime rate high round yah. Up to last week Thursday dem come rob mi house and dem come two months before. Dem a target we hard. Dem a tek appliances, money, tools, goats, and fowl and other animals. It happens in and around the area in Palmer’s Cross, especially on the back road.

“You see up where the lonely houses dem is on the Rosewell Road; thieves are plaguing the people hard from Palmer’s Cross to Rosewell. Dem hold dem up with gun, all inna middle day. Last week Thursday dem come tek weh all mi woodwork tools. Nothing naa gwaan pon di road fi taxi man. Mi get a likkle pardner draw so mi seh ‘Alright, mi a go back inna di woodwork business.’ So mi buy di tools and a wait pon some more tools fi start up the workshop and di man dem come hold up my people dem fi di second time, after 6:00 pm, while me deh pon di road.

“When it busy and police inna di town, that’s when dem target the people dem. We need police on the road fi start search di vehicle dem because dem will wait enuh, den dem call dem vehicle and fi all two hours dem inna your house a dig it up — and dem naaa lef dem gun. Dem will all beat up di pickney dem and tek weh dem laptop and phone. A suh dem a gwaan around the area. From January step een a pure dat a gwaan,” he told the Sunday Observer in a tone indicating grave concern.

According to Sewell, his sister lodged a report following the last break-in, but Senior Superintendent of Police Glenford Miller, who heads the Clarendon Police, said last week that while numerous persons may complain about being robbed, they do not always come forward to give statements to the police.

The latest police statistics show that since the start of this year, up to May 6, there were 24 reports of robbery in the parish, which is a 41 per cent increase over the same period in 2020 when there were 17 reports. Regarding break-ins over the same period, 13 reports were made, which represents a 66 per cent decrease over the corresponding period in 2020 when there were 38 cases.

Pearnel Charles Jr, Member of Parliament for Clarendon South Eastern where Palmer’s Cross is located, sympathised with the citizens while acknowledging that constant house break-ins may be as a result of the economic hardship caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic and that those activities spread across the parish and are not confined to Palmer’s Cross. He told the Sunday Observer that he has been engaging regularly with the National Works Agency and the Clarendon Municipal Corporation to identify areas that require the installation of lights to increase visibility.

“We not only have the pandemic of COVID-19 but the pandemic of crime in Clarendon, and I stand with the residents in their call for increased policing. I have been in touch with Senior Superintendent Glenford Miller, I have spoken to Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson and I have met with the national security minister.

“We have been engaging through community meetings but more needs to be done to make sure there is proper lighting and other situational prevention is done to reduce the ability for these criminals to move around in the space. We will continue to work with the police.

“It is a general Clarendon issue, so I wouldn’t say it is in Palmer’s Cross more than anywhere else. We have, however, heard of the increase in some of these types of crimes as some persons are feeling the impact of not going to work and the impact of the restrictions of COVID-19.

“We are trying to see, from my office as Member of Parliament, how we can give support to families in terms of food packages, in terms of working with the municipal corporation to identify places that need better lighting and bush clearing. What I have to say to these criminalsis that we are one community, one people and all of us are feeling the same frustration and going through the challenges. We appeal to them that if they need support, come to us so that we can help them. Otherwise, going the criminal route is not a viable option because you are either going to find yourself down in the ground, dead, or in a jail cell,” Charles Jr said.

One female resident who lives in the Tanarky region of the parish said house break-ins are not as prominent as it is in Palmer’s Cross. What is prevalent in and around that area, she claims, is praedial larceny.

“Every now and again there is a break-in but goat thieves frequently come in and take what they see. They will drive a nice clean car, well tinted, and dem just stop and tek your goat from the roadside. Dem come inna bundle, all three four come inna one car. These criminals are stalling our livelihoods,” she told the Sunday Observer.

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