IN the wake of an astonishing rise in car thefts on the island, Justice Minister Hermangild Francis is calling on the officers of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) to put an end to the issue once and for all.
This week, Francis said the police are not working efficiently enough to tackle the matter, even though they have sufficient information to tackle the issue head-on and apprehend those involved.
In the past few months, the island has seen a number of vehicle owners making public appeals for help in locating their stolen vehicles. Despite some vehicles subsequently being found intact, a large number have been found stripped bare of their parts and in recent cases, the vehicles were even incinerated.
In recent times, at least four of the stolen vehicles were found in isolated areas such as Bexon. Police have also noted that the thieves target particular kinds of vehicles, namely Nissan Tiidas and Daihatsu Terios.
Some months ago, police arrested a man who was caught with almost 30 bunches of car keys. Francis revealed his frustration over the way this case was handled.
“He was just charged and released (but) this guy should have been at Bordelais because he is back out there,” Francis said.
While he could not make any confirmations, Francis said he would not be surprised if this individual was a key player in the car theft ring.
Francis said that in this case, there is need for a police team to be formed to gather trends and information relevant to the cases in order to know who the possible victims are, what the perpetrators are looking for and why they are committing the crime in the first place. The Minister said in a case such as this, a message needs to be sent to the perpetrators.
He said: “When we arrest these people, we have to make examples of them. Just send them at Bordelais for a little while.”
Referencing Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s recent controversial offer to house prisoners from the Hurricane Irma-ravaged Turks and Caicos): “Look, now we can take prisoners because we have space!”
It is high time, he said, that the police step up to the plate and do the job they are being paid to do and perform their duties diligently, as opposed to holding back efforts because of the pressure of the IMPACS report.
The minister said that due to the damning report that has named a number of high-ranking police officers for playing roles in the controversial police killings of 12 individuals between 2010-2011, some members of the RSLPF are not performing to the standards required, adding that police officers should be penalised for intentionally failing to perform their full duties.