Murders, robberies down in St Mary
Major crimes in St Mary between January 1 and March 9 this year have seen a decrease of 26 per cent, falling from 46 to 34, compared to the similar period in 2018.
Addressing the monthly meeting of the St Mary Municipal Corporation in Port Maria on Thursday, Inspector Joseph Foster of the St Mary police said four murders have been reported so far this year, compared to nine for the corresponding period in 2018.
Foster said robberies, at 15, are also reflecting a decline, while shootings (four), rape (two), aggravated assault (three), and break-ins (six) all showed increases.
Councillor for the Belfield division, Leevan Freeman, voiced concern over the reported reduction in robberies, arguing that there has, anecdotally, been an upsurge of robberies and praedial larceny in Bellefield, Over The River, and adjoining communities.
Foster acknowledged a spike in reports of praedial larceny also affecting Islington, Highgate, and Carron Hall but said that the phenomenon would be addressed with the revival of the Praedial Larceny Unit.
“This will be done in short order”, he said, “as space has been identified to set up an office for this unit”.
However, just over a week ago, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw declared that he would overhaul the national unit, whose responsibility it is to investigate farm theft, because it was undermanned. Shaw called the current set-up “a disgrace”.
“I am going to review the present Praedial Larceny Unit that exists at my ministry. It needs beefing up, it needs more resources, and I am going to ensure that we put more resources,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, two teenagers have been charged by the police in St Mary for a series of robberies committed in the capital, Port Maria, and Spring Valley areas of the parish.
A 19-year-old man from Buckfield, Ocho Rios, has been charged for a series of robberies in Port Maria after collaboration between the Ocho Rios and Port Maria police. He is to face a series of identification parades.
The other teen, from Frontier in St Mary, is in custody for robberies in Spring Valley.
The police say that the accused usually take a taxi to the community then travel on foot, holding up persons at knifepoint and robbing them.
Foster is urging residents to be vigilant and to adopt best practices to avoid becoming victims.