Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Helmet off at the door - Suggestion made to tackle criminals using motorcycles

Published:Sunday | June 12, 2016 | 6:00 AMMel Cooke
A number of motorcyclists in heavy traffic.
Tarik Kiddoe (left) during a Back to Basics Motorcycle Safety Workshop Liguanea, St Andrew.
A motorcyclist driving through traffic in the Corporate Area.
A motorcyclist with his helmet up, exposing his face.
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Tarik Kiddoe is suggesting that a sign be posted outside business places, especially financial institutions, to deal with the issue of criminals using motorcycles. The sign would instruct motorcyclists to remove their helmets so their faces can be seen.

He made it clear that the sign would not be indicating that there is a suspicion that motorcyclists are thieves, but that "there are thives hiding among you". For good measure, there would also be a sign directed at motorcyclists at the exit, reminding them to put on their helmets for safety.

Kiddoe, who is a motorcyclist, organises the Back to Basics Motorcycle Safety workshops, the most recent of which took place in Westmoreland, a parish that has become notorious for motorcycle crashes.

His sign suggestion was made in the wake of a recent, highly publicised incident in New Kingston in which a woman was robbed of $300,000. The incident was caught on camera, including the man who grabbed the bag with the money leaping onto a waiting motorcycle, the rider speeding off for the criminals to make a clean getaway.

Although a car was involved, Kiddoe noted that in the wake of the incident, the police have focused on motorcyclists in New Kingston. He believes it is an unfair and ineffective strategy. He said that while some of the many motorcyclists the police check may have issues with legal compliance such as not having up-to-date documentation, it is highly unlikely that they will catch a criminal.

"Most of them are young and middle-aged men who are trying to earn a living," Kiddoe said of the motorcyclists. Describing the criminals who use motorcycles in their activities as outsiders to the community, he said they are not the people regular motorcyclists "buck up at a stoplight and say hello". Further, Kiddoe said riders are often wary of being assaulted at stop lights persons who want their motorcycles to commit crimes.

He has another suggestion for curbing crime involving motor vehicles, including motorcycles. Kiddoe said that as no weapon was used during the incident which sparked the police crackdown, even if they were caught, the criminals would not be punished so severely. He proposes that in crimes where a getaway vehicle is used, there should be a five to 10-year sentence for the criminals involved.

He is also encouraging persons to report all crimes involving motorcyclists to the police. While incidents may come to his attention because of public involvement in motorcycle safety and being a rider himself, Kiddoe said the police need to be alerted even if the affected person does not feel that what they lost will be recovered. "The police may be able to put together a pattern," Kiddoe said.

"It is usually one or two gangs of people (committing the crimes)," Kiddoe said.

He also sees class bias in a general suspicion of motorcyclists. "We are comfortable blaming motorcyclists because many of them are from the lower socioeconomic class, but the issue is bigger than that," Kiddoe said.