St Elizabeth farmers urged to fight praedial larceny
Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
St Elizabeth is the second largest parish in Jamaica and is usually referred to as the 'bread basket' parish because of its great contribution to the country's agricultural demands.
Many residents of the parish depend on proceeds from agricultural activities to support their households. Sadly, the efforts of the men and women who farm are often disrupted by praedial larceny.
According to information received from the Agro-Enforcement Unit, the St Elizabeth police recorded 70 cases of praedial larceny last year, 38 cases of animal theft, and 32 cases of theft of ground produce. Of the 70 incidents, 15 were reported between November and December.
Subofficer in charge of the Agro-Enforcement Unit in St Elizabeth, Sergeant Garfield Ellison, said that November to December is one of the periods when there is usually an increase in reports of praedial larceny. He says this year, the unit would be working to change the trend and to curb such activities in the parish.
So far, between January and October 25 this year, the St Elizabeth police have already recorded 69 cases of praedial larceny. Fifty-two of these reports involved animal theft; the remaining 17 were the theft of ground produce.
"The police are reminding persons that during the Christmas season, praedial larceny tends to be on the rise. We are asking them to look out for praedial thieves at this time.
"Cattle are the main animals that they steal in St Elizabeth. [Up to October 25], we had about 28 cattle stolen, 20 goats and four pigs.
"We are asking person to issue Farm-C receipts to persons they sell their produce and animals to, and for the persons who are travelling [with animals or produce], you must have your Farm-C receipts to produce to the police. The Farm-C receipt is one thing that is used to trace animals in cases where they are stolen.
"The police will make every effort to bring to book those who are in violation of the Agricultural Produce Act and the praedial larceny act," Sergeant Ellison informed Rural Xpress.
He went on to say that an effective way to protect livestock and produce was for farmers to participate in farm-watch activities.
"Persons can also put themselves in farm-watch [groups] to watch your [animals and] crops. The police [are] out there and ready to support those who want to [participate] in that.
"The farm watch is similar to the neighbourhood watch, where each person is their brother's keeper looking out for [would-be thieves]," he explained.
Ellison said that it was important for butchers to ensure that animals that are purchased by them are not stolen property. He added they should also give proper notice of their intention to slaughter.
"We are also asking the butchers to report their intent to slaughter animals within the parish in writing to the subofficer in charge of the area in which they want to slaughter at least 12 hours before. Under the livestock control regulation, it is stated that you must give the police enough time to carry out their investigation," Ellison told Rural Xpress.
The sergeant went on to say of the cases reported in the parish, Black River had the highest incidence of theft, followed by Santa Cruz.
"Since January up to October 25, of [the] 69 cases reported in the parish, Black River [is] the leading hot spot, followed by Santa Cruz. This is what the police would have captured through reports that come to the stations, however, we still believe that there are persons out there who are not reporting to the police, and that causes a challenge for the police in fighting praedial larceny.
"One of the best ways to protect yourself from praedial larceny [is to] report all cases of praedial larceny to the police so the police can look at where they need to deploy their resources.
"Every report that is made will help the police analyse how praedial larceny happens across the parish and put things in place to prevent [it]," the sergeant said.