KINGSTON –– The police say they have made a disturbing discovery in their investigation of an upsurge in robberies taking place on the streets of downtown Kingston. The crimes are being committed by teenagers under the command of their parents.
“We have been carrying out investigations, and what we have found is disturbing,” said one policeman close to the development. “We have found that some parents are sending these youngsters out in the streets to carry out these illegal acts.”
According to the cop, who declined to be named, many of the robberies are being carried out by boys between the ages of 15 and 18 who, when caught, reveal that they are acting on the parents’ orders.
“In the last month we have apprehended more than seven of these youngsters and brought them before the court. But this is a small percentage of the overall robberies that take place,” he told the Jamaica Observer as he explained that many of the teen thieves had escaped being captured by the police.
“Since the start of the year, we have received reports of more than 25 of these robbery cases,” the cop said, adding that many of these youngsters were still in school and had had multiple run-ins with the law.
The teen thieves, he said, made a habit of robbing shoppers and vendors, particularly in the market districts. They also target motor vehicles and steal phones that are left exposed.
“Many of these criminals are known to us, and we are making an appeal for those still out there to stop their illegal activities. We are also warning the parents to stop sending out their children on the streets to carry out these illegal acts,” the policeman said.
He added that when many of these youth carried out their robberies and managed to escape, no alarm was raised, but as soon as they were caught, the parents were the first ones to get to the police station to deny their children were involved in wrongdoing, even when they were caught red-handed.
Yesterday, Detective Inspector Phillip McIntosh, who is in charge of the crime portfolio in the Kingston Western Police Division, said he, too, had information about the robberies. However, the biggest setback the police continued to face was that not enough reports were being made to them.
“We are hearing about these incidents from persons in the street, but persons are not coming forward to make the reports, and this affects our ability to act,” said McIntosh, who encouraged affected persons to file reports.