November 27, 2012
Spate of robberies – how are we responding?

Tue, Nov 27, 2012

In the last few months, several business places in and around Kingstown, and homes on the outskirts have been targetted by robbers and burglars, most of whom were armed.

Media professionals are taught that care should be taken when using words like “spate” to describe criminal activity, especially when no hard statistics can be produced to back up the claims being made. It is however difficult to think of how else one should describe the incidents of robberies and burglaries which have taken place in recent months.{{more}}

This past Saturday, a man, brandishing what appeared to be a gun, tried to rob businesswoman Sylvia Ferdinand, who has been operating her grocery shop unmolested at Lower Kingstown Park for almost 55 years. Thankfully, Miss Ferdie used skills garnered over the decades and managed to escape the ordeal unscathed.

The attempted robbery last Saturday is the latest in a series of recent daring armed robberies, within a one mile radius of Miss Ferdie’s grocery store. In the last three months or so, there have been at least five other robberies, just yards away, at nearby businesses, including the office of the Searchlight newspaper.

How does one account for this upsurge? Are the robberies and break-ins acts of random individuals/groups, or is there some level of organization to these crimes? Is the economic situation to be blamed? What of the deportee effect? Have we had returns of criminal deportees from North America in the last six months?

What likely impact will these crimes have on businesses if this spate goes unchecked? Businesses, no doubt, have been responding to the robberies by reviewing their security arrangements, making upgrades where necessary. These upgrades do not come cheap and place a further burden on businesses, many of whom are already struggling to stay afloat in a difficult economy.

We only have to look at the agricultural sector to see what a disincentive crime is to business. Praedial larceny has had a devastating effect in our rural communities, with several farmers opting out of the business, mainly because of the theft of produce.

We are not aware what the response of the police has been to these robberies in the Kingstown area, but a proactive approach needs to be taken. We know that the police would not want to alert the criminals to what steps they are taking, but businesses need the assurance that the police have been paying serious attention to what has been happening and are working to solve the crimes and prevent new ones from taking place.

Finally, the youngsters who have chosen a life of crime need to consider that not all business persons will give into them without a fight. This is as good a time as any to remind them that a Trinidadian would-be robber paid with his life at a businessplace at Villa last year.