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St Thomas police modify team to fight surge in praedial larceny

Published:Monday | October 19, 2020 | 7:22 AMShanna Monteith/Gleaner Writer

The St Thomas police have described the issue of praedial larceny as a bitter concern that has been plaguing the parish over the last few months.

In response to the surge in agricultural property theft, the police say they have stepped up their presence along the main thoroughfare to minimise and further prevent repeated instances.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Fitzroy Williams shared an observation that most of the items being stolen, including livestock, are leaving the parish.

In addition to the establishment of vehicular checkpoints, the police noted that they have been in constant communication with farmers and other citizens as they continue to encourage community policing.

“Agricultural theft on a whole is a bitter concern to us, and that is why we make our continuous raids as well as visits to the market and other areas where persons are selling and have them produce legitimate documents. We’re positioning ourselves to get back St Thomas to the point where no one wants to think of coming into the parish and depriving others of what they have worked hard to produce.

“While many of those detained are not of a St Thomas address, there is always a nexus here, and I can imagine that the community oftentimes will know or have an idea, and that’s why we want them to tell us and don’t wait and lurk and try to capture them themselves and carry out any form of vigilante justice. We want them to tell us for us to take the lead in capturing these persons,” he said.

Over the past month, the police have been successful in apprehending and charging a number of persons implicated in goat thefts across the parish. On each occasion, the lawmen were acting on information shared by community members.

TAKEN TOO FAR

However, in a similar occurrence which took place in the community of Old Pera, residents took ‘community policing’ too far when they not only apprehended the suspected thieves but also chopped one to death.

This behaviour, according to Williams, is unacceptable and a crime.

According to the DSP, “We appreciate community members getting involved by sharing information with the police. However, we are not supportive of what took place last week and we are investigating the matter. We don’t want the citizens to take the law into their own hands. What we want is the support from them. We have a team called the St Thomas Anti-Praedial Larceny Unit and they have been refitted with a new vehicle and a revised team so they are point A in dealing with farm theft.”

He encouraged those residents who are being affected to continue supporting the process, including showing up for court.

“There are times when these animals are captured and brought back and persons don’t want to give their statements. The laws require that you have to give your statement as the owner, and the police, witness, suspect and you, as the owner of the property, have to go to court and have the law take its full course.”