News

Fearful - Lime Hall plagued by thieves

Residents want stronger police presence in the area

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 03, 2014    

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Residents in Lime Hall and surrounding communities in St Ann are calling on the police to begin conducting regular patrols in the area to stem the massive hike in robberies.

The residents, who requested anonymity, said they are living in fear.

"The crime rate in the community is very nasty and needs to be addressed," one resident told the Jamaica Observer North East, adding that both businesses and families have been affected by the large number of robberies taking place.

Recently, the community was left without Internet and landline service after thieves reportedly cut and stole several cable lines belonging to a communication company. This resulted in several homes, schools and businesses being left without service for days.

The company reportedly lost millions as a result of the vandalism of the lines.

Persons say they are now fearing for their lives in the community as several residents have been attacked and robbed while at their homes and on the streets.

According to residents, the most recent incident occurred on January 20 when a watchman was attacked and severely chopped by robbers at a home near Clamstead, shortly after midnight. Reports are that a group of men armed with machetes entered the premises and attacked the watchman when he failed to meet their demands. He received multiple chop wounds to the body and was rushed to the St Ann's Bay Hospital before being transferred to a Kingston hospital.

The men, however, broke into a storeroom on the property and made off with several household items.

In another robbery, residents said a house in the Laycock area was robbed. The perpetrators are said to have removed a lock from one of the doors and forced their way inside the house. A sound system and a television set were among several items taken.

The owner was not at home but a caretaker who had gone to a nearby shop returned, just in time, to see the thieves with some of the items in a motorcar while another man was observed running from the house.

Farmers in the area say they are also suffering at the hands of criminals. Last Sunday, one farmer said he lost 19 bunches of plantains to thieves while another farmer lost bananas, plantains, peppers, among other items.

"We would like the relevant authorities to do something tangible to correct the situation," another resident said.

The robberies, the residents said, have been occurring for some time now.

In one incident last year, gunmen lured a truck operator into the community under the pretext that they needed to purchase cooking gas. When the truck arrived at the location, the driver was robbed of a large sum of cash.

Churches have also not been spared. In one incident, a water tank was stolen from the roof of a church building. A nearby shop and bar suffered a similar fate.

"They cut the lines installed to the drum and let out the water to get free access to steal the drum," one resident explained.

There have also been reports of the theft of several motor vehicles in the area. This, as thieves recently removed four tyres from a car in the Sandy Grove Area, and several others from a parked truck.

Several female residents are also fearful after two women were held up by masked men in the community. In another incident, residents said the women ran into a nearby home and sought help. The masked men reportedly escaped in nearby bushes.

While the residents are concerned about the crime, some residents believe some people in the community may have information to assist the police in capturing the culprits but are refusing to come forward for fear of being labelled informers.

"People afraid of being called informers," one resident insisted. "A lot of strange men lurking in the community and we don't know where they come from," another resident said.

The man said he believes a revival of the Police Youth Club in the community and the establishment of a Neighbourhood Watch could help to curb the criminal activities in the area.

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