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Robbery spike

by Emmanuel Joseph
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Police report more theft of gold jewellery and other items By Emmanuel Joseph As public concerns mount over the spate of violence in Barbados, Police Commissioner Richard Boyce is reporting a six per cent increase in overall crime, including robberies and burglaries. However, Richard Boyce has assured that lawmen are up to the task of beating down those numbers with the help of the Barbados Defence Force and other stakeholders. “I must assure members of the public, that we in the Police Service and other persons who work with us are well aware of what is happening, and we are doing everything within our remit to make sure the situation is brought under control,” he promised at a news briefing at the Barbados Police Service headquarters on Thursday where he said the overall increase in crime represented a one per cent decrease in major offences and an eight per cent hike in minor ones. Flanked by his senior command officers, Boyce revealed statistics that show the total number of major crimes reported for 2022 was 554, compared to 549 for this year so far – a drop of one per cent. “First, we will look at the capital crime of murder. In 2022, we had 17 murders, and in 2023, the current figures, we are at 12 murders. So . . . we have seen a reduction in murders. . . . We would have liked to have a zero figure in this column, but wishes don’t always come true,” the top cop told reporters. He contended that that reduction spoke volumes for the “hard” work of the police and the daily interventions to ensure the island is safe. With regard to robberies, Boyce disclosed that from around February/March this year, police noticed a shift in the method used by perpetrators, and he attributed an increase in this type of crime this year to the “craving” for gold. So far this year, the country has recorded 88 robberies compared to 63 the year before. “What we noticed was that persons had a great and a big appetite for gold jewellery. A spinoff from that is we found that persons were robbing persons and taking their gold jewellery away from them, and it continued at a fast clip, and we asked ourselves, why was that?” he said, adding that police discovered that the price of gold was as high as US$2 000 per ounce. “So persons saw gold jewellery and other items as a way of getting quick money. We in the organisation saw this and we put measures in place…which included such aspects of not only patrols, but persons were tasked to be out in certain locations where these things were occurring and having what is called directive type of policing. That is, following the crimes where the crimes are occurring and making the necessary interventions where the culprits are concerned,” the COP stated. Boyce said while there has been some success, it was not what the police expected. “One of the main things we noticed was that persons were taking this gold and having it melted and having it shipped out of the island. So in terms of recovery of this type of property, it became very problematic for us because we were not able to hold onto this gold before it left the country,” the commissioner reported. Aggravated burglary is up slightly: 38 to date compared to 34 during the corresponding period in 2022, while theft from the person has also gone up – 36 cases this year and 28 the previous year. Commissioner Boyce also told reporters that commercial burglaries have risen as well. “Persons were entering these buildings from the roof, something which is novel in some measure to us and to Barbadians. In the past, the main act of entering these buildings was prying a door, a window or something. We find that persons are moving away from that. That is something that we have to deal with. Last year’s figure was 65; now, to date, it is 85. So this . . . . increase in crimes of this nature is something which we are currently grappling with. In fact, currently, we have a number of persons in custody assisting us in the investigation with this type of crime,” he announced.   Boyce said that the number of all other burglaries, which included entering dwelling houses, was 269, a decline of 50 when compared with the previous period. He pledged that law enforcers would be working “doubly hard” to reduce the incidence of major crimes, in particular, going forward. When it came to minor crimes, Boyce reported an eight per cent increase. This year so far, the country has seen a total of 2 804 such offences as against 2 601 last year. Boyce also updated the island on the achievements of his investigators during the past year in terms of firearms and ammunition seizures. “For this year, we were able to take 46 firearms out of the hands of persons. At this time last year, we stood at 41. So there is an increase over last year’s number of five when compared to this year, which is great, I must say,” the commissioner contended. “In terms of ammunition, for this year we are at 733, and this compares to 514 for 2022. So, likewise, we are doing a better job this year than last year at this time when it comes to ammunition seizure. Boyce also disclosed that the BPS will continue to maintain Operation Restore Order, a programme spearheaded by a specialised anti-crime fighting unit comprising hand-picked officers of the Police Service and the military. He said the programme which was launched in December last year for an initial six-month period will continue to ensure “things go smoothly” in fighting violent crime in particular. “And persons with the Operation Restore Order are well aware of the big mandate which they have to fulfil, and they are up and ready for the job,” Boyce assured. The Police Commissioner explained that since the operation started, personnel have conducted several exercises which included searches of people and vehicles. “Vehicles searched so far were 5 675, and persons who were searched thus far are 22 999, and this tells that persons were and still are very active and robust in the field to have things organised and pull things back for us to make the country as safe as possible,” Boyce asserted as he promised heightened police visibility. emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb]]>

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