AS the Christmas season picks and the peak time for robberies and theft grows, the National Taxi Union’s President is once again pleading for stricter measures to protect the tourists who play the part of the local economy’s life blood.
Lucien Joseph told The VOICE exclusively that a brazen robbery on a female visitor last week is just one more red flag added to the island’s reputation.
The taxi driver said he brought five tourists, Swiss and French, from the Smugglers Cove resort to Gros Islet and he was asked to return to pick up three of them at 10:00 p.m. and the other two at 10:30p.m. Upon returning to the 10:30 p.m. pick up near the Gros Islet Church he noticed that the two were talking to a young man from the area since they still had 15 minutes to enjoy.
Joseph went on: “Within five minutes, the lady rushed up to me screaming ‘Oh my God, my chain, my chain is gone’ but I knew who the guy was because I had seen him when I came over to meet the visitors.”
Joseph said he and a colleague ran across to see if they could spot the culprit but he was already gone. He then took the shaken visitors to the police station to give a statement and he then told the police who the snatcher was.
He said the following day he went to the police station to check on the case’s progress and took it upon himself to go looking for the young man. That, he said proved to be successful. When he spotted the young man, he called the police and an arrest was made. The young man admitted to the crime and explained that he had given the chain to his brother.
Joseph said: “We are in the middle of the Christmas season where every bandit, every thief and everybody right now is getting aggressive and I believe so should the authorities”
The NTU President said he had a discussion with the Prime Minister who assured him that talks were being held to create a special division of the Royal St. Lucian Police Force which would be designated to the tourism industry.
He said there was a similar initiative in years past with the Rangers but there is a desperate need for it to be reintroduced not just for tourists but for the safety of locals as well.
Joseph mentioned the recent incident where a local couple was attacked by a group of masked men on the Choc beach which resulted in the female being raped by the group.
He said he has constantly sent out warnings about that area which he calls “extremely dangerous and a hot spot for thieves who target tourists who come to try the St. Lucian beach experience”.
Added Joseph: “Right now, none of the taxi organisations send tourists over to that area because it’s so dangerous. The area is very bushy. People will put their bags on the beach, go into the water and by the time they come out it’s gone.”
Joseph added; ”We’re are really waiting on the authorities to do something to protect this industry because it doesn’t make sense to go around the world and spend $40 million to bring visitors here and you cannot protect what you’re spending on.”