THE coordinator of the island’s main human rights body was devastated to find her offices — in the centre of Castries — broken into by person(s) unknown. She’d locked-up as usual last Friday and headed home, only to be informed the next day that she’d been the victim of a (another) break-in.
Why would anyone want to break into, rob and destroy documents at the office of someone who’s spent a lifetime defending the rights of everyone, including persons accused of theft?
That would have been a logical question once upon a time. But the uncomfortable truth today is that this question is redundant here, in an age when thieves are also prepared to break into police department offices (also located in the city centre).
Thieves never have remorse for victims. They’ll as easily break into a church and steal a crucifix as they would steal a ripe mango from a vendor’s tray at the Castries Market.
Fact is: Theft is a disease that only manifests itself in different degrees and variations — and victims only differ according to those factors.
There’s also the question of the constantly changing types of theft today. It’s no longer just about ‘Blue Collar’ or ‘White Collar’ criminals, but the extent to which both have changed in the sophistry of their character and methods, according to the value of the targets.
These changes require equally-quick responsive changes on the part of those charged with protecting the nation from theft.
But then, with today’s burglars stealing more computers and jump drives than items for random use or quick sale, how equipped are our security forces to undertake the added appropriate investigative measures required to trace stolen computers and other related devices?
There’s also the ongoing question of the preparedness of the local security forces for new changes in the experiences they encounter in responding to crime reports.
Earlier this week, the police were (reported to have been) summoned to L’Anse Road to investigate a case of an allegedly ‘armed man’, who was twice shot (in the chest and leg) following ‘an altercation’ — only to find that the victim was (reported by his father to have been) ‘not all there…’ And the ‘gun’ the hospitalized victim allegedly possessed was ‘a toy’.
Here again, how ready are (or can our police officers be) for such unusual circumstances?
Human rights lawyers and so-called ‘persons of unsound mind’ are treated as equal targets by today’s more sophisticated thieves, even with unequal denominators, the only difference being the thief’s perception of which (target) will be more rewarding.
Yes, everything’s changed – including the still-constantly-changing arts of theft.
What will matter most in the ongoing battles to protect the society today is not only how those responsible for our protection respond, but also how the society itself responds, staring with each individual.
Sadly today, theft is something to be expected. That shouldn’t be normal, but it’s one of several regretful norms. This requires a fundamental mindset-change that gears us to automatically accept that we also need to protect ourselves (from theft, for example) by taking those actions – small and little – that will either dissuade, avoid or prevent it.
We will not always be successful. Never will we eradicate the disease called theft. But we can reduce incidents if we do more to secure ourselves. That can come at a cost, but it can also be free – by the things we can do without spending a cent: from watching more closely to sharing what we see.
Once upon a time we emphasized Neighbourhood Watches. That’s been all well and good. But in this age of Information Technology (IT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), we can no longer expect the police to identify thieves according to the items stolen.
That’s why the nature of charges will always need to change with the times, accompanied by equally necessary changes in not only how victims respond, but even more so, how the society responds — through each person, family and community, on a continuous basis, constantly guided by the knowledge that change is the only constant.