Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Editorial | Questions about the stolen boat

Published:Tuesday | December 27, 2016 | 12:05 AM


It was without, it seems, either embarrassment or a sense of irony that a few days ago, Assan Thompson, the assistant police commissioner in charge of border security hailed the efforts of members of the marine police who “braved dangerous waters” to retrieve a boat that was stolen in Jamaica and found on a bank halfway between Jamaica and Honduras.

“The mission was an extremely risky and treacherous one,” said Mr Thompson. “However, the necessary threat and risk assessments were done, along with the practical exercise under bad weather conditions, before execution.”

The vessel belongs to the Jamaican police. It was a gift from the government of the United States of America, one of 10 boats the Americans gave the island in late 2015, to help beef up Jamaica’s coastal security. It was well equipped and an expensive bit of merchandise.

The boat was stolen in February from its dock in Negril, Westmoreland, in so far unexplained circumstances. We assume it the same stolen vessel that the police, in March, disclosed as being found scrapped in Honduras, in which event, there was no explanation for the nine-month delay in bringing it back to Jamaica.

What is, however, certain is that expensive equipment, including powerful outboard engines and navigation systems, were stolen. It is Mr Thompson’s theory that the thieves were drug smugglers or other criminals, who configured the vessel to their own use in a tit-for-tat exchange. The same day that the Jamaican vessel was taken, the police had seized a boat from Honduran smugglers, and, according to Mr Thompson, they possibly “wanted to get back at us”.

A WAKE-UP CALL

“It is a wake-up call for us to pay very keen attention to our borders and, more so, to our uncontrolled ports,” he said.

We agree. That observation, however, has even greater applicability to ports where the police and other arms of the security forces dock their vessels. For if they can’t secure their own, there will be little confidence in their ability to protect other people’s.

Indeed, Mr Thompson said that the investigation into the theft is ongoing, including by the police inspectorate. It is surprising that after nine months, there is no conclusion whether any officers ought to be held accountable. Was anyone, at the least, negligent?

These are things the public should know. For it is not the first time that equipment of this type has been stolen from under the noses of members of the security forces.