Letters & Opinion

Hoax phone calls continue despite bomb scare arrest

By Earl Bousquet

A case of selective application?

The first thing that came to mind when an arrest was made regarding the recent hoax call to the George FL Charles Airport at Vigie was how quick the police had traced the culprit.

One always knew the technology existed and is available across the Caribbean to allow service providers to trace every phone call made, so one also always wondered why, to one’s knowledge, no one had previously been traced, arrested and charged for this criminal offense.

There’ve been dozens of such incidents (reported and unreported) here and across the region in which workers have been forced to vacate buildings and assemble safely elsewhere while the police take the necessary time to properly search.

Over time, affected workers here and elsewhere started becoming fed-up with the repeated interruptions of their day’s work schedule, resulting in the collective loss of thousands of working hours — each and every time.

Many here would have liked to have been able to just sit at their desks and continue working while others ‘waste their time’, but have had to accept — each time — that while all previous calls had been pranks resulting in mere scares, one can never tell when ‘the real thing’ will happen.

Considering the hundreds of thousands of working hours and the resulting losses in earnings, incomes, payments and other forms of business, one would have thought there would have been, by now, some determination somewhere to more readily use the available technology to trace, catch and prosecute pranksters.

Given how quick the alleged culprit in the airport case was caught, one also expected that by yesterday (never mind All Fools Day) the police would just as quickly have traced those whose calls closed down Castries last Friday.

But the charging of someone in the airport matter certainly has not resulted in perpetrators lessening their will to continue doing the same — and even more, as they targeted at least five local banking and financial institutions, all in one day — and within much less than one square mile in the city’s centre.

Interestingly, more prank calls were made on Friday than in the airport case, but investigators have (so far) been less able to as quickly trace the calls.

And then there’s the case of a local boat captain who claimed persons were impersonating him by falsely claiming and receiving monies in his name.

After six months of complaints, the Rodney Bay-based captain says, he made the impersonators’ telephone numbers available to the Gros Islet police and actually invited them to make an arrest after the individuals were identified — but to no avail.

He says he eventually arranged a sting operation to ensnare the impersonators, leading to their eventual arrest last week – by City Police officers on patrol.

One would like to believe there are reasons why the airport prank call was traced so quickly, while no other like calls have (so far) been traced, with arrests.

But the silence of the investigators is so deafeningly loud that no one can even hear — far less see or imagine — what such reasons could be, allowing for those not in the know to feel and (just as loudly) claim there may be some selectivity in application of the tech and the law when it comes to tracing and prosecuting perpetrators of this criminal practice.

There’s need for some clarification here, I would think, if only to prove that’s not the case.

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