News

Haven for thieves

Pickpockets, chain snatchers thrive in downtown Kingston

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

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The woman in the front passenger seat of the Toyota Rav 4 was oblivious to the two teenaged boys following the vehicle as it slowly navigated the mass of pedestrians and vendors on Luke Lane in downtown Kingston yesterday.

The minute she rolled the window down to speak to someone on the road one of the teens lunged at her, snatching a gold chain from around her neck.

Shocked by the assault, she sat trembling, barely able to talk.

The woman, who was on holiday from England, told the Jamaica Observer that her chain, which she had since she was 21 years old, held sentimental value.

Insisting that she was not interested in getting the chain back, the woman kept her window up as she spoke to the police through the window behind her, which was rolled halfway down.

She was reluctant to give the policeman information when he suggested that she formally report the theft.

Earlier, the teenagers were being tracked by plainclothes police who knew them as thieves. However, the cops were unable to get to them immediately after they pulled off the robbery.

The cops, knowing where the 16-year-old lives on Oxford Street in Denham Town, went to his house hoping to retrieve the chain before the teen had a chance to pawn it.

However, the boy, whose house is a stone's throw from one of the zones of special operations checkpoints manned by police and soldiers, was not home.

The police summoned his mother who emerged from the unfinished building obviously embarrassed and expressing frustration at the behaviour of the boy and his two brothers.

Admitting that she has been receiving complaints from residents as well as law enforcers, the single mother, who did not mince words, said all three of her sons — ages 22, 18, and 16 — are thieves.

“Mi tiad fi talk to dem. Mi talk to dem till mi weak. Mi talk to dem till mi sick,” she said, as she sat on a bench outside the yard.

“It come een like mi a mad; mi talk to dem till mi sick. Mi cyaa do nothing more. Mi not even know what to do. Dem nah tek no talk from mi,” the mother lamented.

According to the woman, she raised them the best way she could.

The frustrated mother, who asked not to be identified, made it clear that she is not in support of her sons' wrongdoings.

“Anything wah happen to dem, happen to dem. Mi no know what more to do. People might think say a me a send dem fi go thief, ennuh. Mi nah send nobody go thief ennuh; a work mi work fi my own,” she said.

The mother, who does hairdressing in the market district, is adamant that she will not be posting bail for them again.

“Yu haffi look out fi anything, because if yu a talk to dem and dem nah hear, a nuh say dem a likkle pickney, ennuh, dem a big pickney weh have sense,” she said.

“Dem a thief and dem nuh need to do that, 'cause mi work hard and mi tek care of dem. Bucket a sugar and flour and dem something deh mi buy. You can come look inna mi house. A red eye dem red eye, mi a tell you dat,” she said.

“Yu know from when mi house coulda done? Every minute mi haffi a pay lawyer; mi a dis, mi a dat. A tru you not even know, mi a tell you, man,” she continued.

The mother confessed that she, too, has been a victim of one of her sons. She explained that last week she left her cellular phone in the possession of the 18-year-old. When she returned home her phone was nowhere to be found.

“Mi deliver some resume for him to get a work. Mi lef mi phone wid him, him seh him wah play one football game, and when mi come back, him cyaah tell mi weh mi phone deh. Mi say [to him] it look like a you thief mi phone and go sell mi phone. Mi cyaah get mi phone all now, and a inna mi house mi lef mi phone. Is like a mad mi a mad. You know how much people fi call me? All the people dem who mi give the resume fi call me,” she said.

She complained that whenever she scolds her sons about their wrongdoing, they deny her accusations.

“A follow dem a follow, 'cause when dem friend usually do it, dem friend usually come and say 'Look pon money', and dem something deh, and dem eye get red. Dem no need fi do that,” she added.

A further tour of Beckford, King, West Queen and Orange streets revealed that pickpocketing and chain snatching are rampant in the downtown Kingston.

In fact, when the Observer spoke to two men after they were searched by the police they admitted that they were part-time pickpockets.

“Mi do tiling, mi do plumbing, mi do construction work, anything, anything mi can get fi do, but when nothing nah gwan mi cyaah dead fi hungry. Mi nah go walk and beg, mi a tell you di truth,” said one of the men, who gave his name as Carl.

“Mi nah hold up nobody and rob dem, ennuh. Mi just tek it when dem nah see,” the 45-year-old father of four said.

His confederate, 57-year-old Anthony, said he has been picking pockets for over eight months.

However, the police said they have been watching them for more than eight months.

The Observer was informed that on Monday an American green card holder was robbed of her handbag containing $150,000, among other things.

It is reported that the woman was travelling on Princess Street about 1:00 pm when she was robbed. The matter was reported to the Darling Street Police Station. Following an investigation, the documents were recovered and returned to her approximately 10:00 pm the same day.

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