By: Kingsley Emmanuel
AN apparently sudden upsurge in criminal activities in the south of the island over the past two weeks is of grave and growing concern to residents across the southern region.
The chilling crime spree includes a series of offences such as robberies, stealing and housebreaking in areas between Vieux Fort (North and South), Laborie and Choiseul.
The most recent incident occurred on Tuesday night, when bandits attempted to break and enter a storeroom where Drivers World, a business which sells mainly vehicle parts and accessories, stores pocket bikes at the Gablewoods Mall (La Tourney, Vieux-Fort).
The bandits broke its front glass door with a stone, but was unable to enter the building or steal anything.
According to the owner of Drivers World, Francis Paul, the way the glass door was broken made it difficult for anyone to pass through the space.
At the time of the incident, the mall was being guarded by two security officers.
“It’s terrible….People are working so hard to earn a living while others try to take away their livelihood,” Paul said.
Two days before, one of Paul’s employees had his pocket bike stolen from the balcony of his home at Augier.
Last week, a minibus driver of Choiseul awoke to find his minibus stolen, which he later recovered minus its stereo set.
Also in Choiseul during the same week, a car which someone apparently stole to scrap, was discovered in an isolated area in the community.
Attempts were made to steal other vehicles in the community and there were also reports of a few house-breakings in Choiseul during that same week.
In Laborie, one man was lucky to be awake to witness someone trying to steal his vehicle. The would-be thief fled the scene when he realized the owner saw him.
Last Saturday, a goods vehicle belonging to a businessman of Vieux-Fort was robbed of an undisclosed sum of money by two masked men — one with a firearm. One of its occupants was also robbed of his gold chain.
A resident of the area told this reporter he saw the bandits scampering through the bushes after committing the crime, but could not identify them.
Last week, documents — which Vitus Peter, a media operator in Vieux-Fort described as “important” to him –were stolen from his vehicle while parked not-too-far from his business, located on Clarke Street, Vieux-Fort.
The police department is being kept busy by these increasing reports of crime in various parts of the southern region.
Southern residents are growing increasingly appalled and are appealing to the authorities to do more to address the situation.
One victim told this reporter, “Crime is nothing new. It is happening everywhere. But when it happens to you, it’s only then that you experience the horror that others are facing too.”
Another (who also did not want to be identified because of where she works) said, “I am lucky the police helped me recover my stolen articles, but what about those who lose everything? “
She added, “I think we have to see crime as a national problem and not only a southern thing. We just have to hope that the police can handle the increase in crime,, because the thieves are getting more brazen.”
A minibus driver said, “I know the police is under pressure and the thieves are wearing masks and arming themselves and even kidnapping people to hold for ransom, so I am arming myself to take care of my van and my money – and myself.”
He continued, “I am only hoping that all the talk about horse racing and development for the south happens in a way that people can get jobs quick enough.”