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Trelawny gets special unit to combat praedial larceny

Published:Friday | June 19, 2020 | 12:10 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer


Farmers Trelawny who have been suffering at the hands of thieves are poised to get a reprieve, thanks to the launch of Trelawny police’s praedial larceny unit at the Falmouth Police Station.

According to Courtney Taylor, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority parish manager for Trelawny, praedial larceny is costing farmers and the country over six billion dollars annually.

“Over the years, praedial larceny has become an organised crime, it is a commercial activity,” said Taylor. “When six billion dollars is lost, not only are farmers affected but also the country’s import bill. I welcome the launch of this unit and I am confident that it will reduce the incidences, especially in the South (Southern Trelawny).”

Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary Welsh, of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Agricultural Produce Protection Division, said the Trelawny launch is the seventh such launch across the island.

“The unit is working … just recently in South St Catherine, 50 goats were stolen. Of that number, 39 were recovered. You can see from this that there is some success, although we would like it to be more,” said Welsh.

‘Treat your responsibilities seriously’

In urging the members of the Trelawny praedial larceny unit to treat their responsibilities seriously, Welsh warned them that the unit assigned to them is fitted with a tracker, which will make it easy for their supervisor to check up on them at all times.

“Superintendent Kirk Ricketts (the commander for Trelawny) will not need to wait on your report to find out where you were,” said Welsh. “Make the unit work and link up with the Farmers Watch Groups that Deputy Superintendent Winston Milton has established in the various communities, and hold public-education meetings so that farmers can be educated on how to protect their farms.”

One farmer who is overjoyed at the establishment of the unit is Herbert Bell, who has been rearing goats for 45 years.

“At one time, I had over 100 goats on my farm, but now I am down to just four,” said Bell. “I cannot keep up with the thieves. Over the years, I have lost over $3 million to thieves.

“At one time, there was an active praedial unit in the parish. When you reported a theft to the police, the officer in charge would visit every butcher to find out where they got their meat from. I hope something similar can happen again,” said Bell.

Like Bell, Southern Trelawny yam farmer Winston Smith welcomes the formation of both the Farmers Watch Groups and the establishment of the praedial larceny unit.

“At one time, farmers in this part of the parish suffered badly. It forced farmers into taking justice into their own hands. It is not bad now and the unit will help to further reduce the incidents,” said Smith.

In his address, Trelawny’s Custos Paul Muschett, who was once an established papaya farmer, said it was praedial larceny that caused him to discontinue in that field.

“I lost valuable foreign exchange from it,” said Muschett, who said he also thought about taking the law into his own hands. “I thought about it and decided it wasn’t worth it. I am now a former farmer.”