BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Observer senior reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
ANNOYED that police stations have become "junkyards" for unclaimed vehicles — some of which have been immobile for years — the National Security Ministry has threatened to auction all such automobiles if the owners do not claim them within the next 30 days.
"Over several years many police stations have really become a junkyard for some of these vehicles and it is imperative that we get rid of them. We are targeting vehicles that are three months and over and are not subject to current police investigations," Head of the Services Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Acting Commissioner of Police Leon Rose told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
"Police facilities are not gazetted to be storage areas, this is why the law makes provision that these properties that are in the custody of the police can be removed by public auction. But we are, first of all, giving owners of these vehicles an opportunity — as the law says — to collect, and failure to do so will see us taking steps open to us under the Constabulary Force Act to have a public auction," ACP Rose said.
He was commenting on a notice placed by the National Security Ministry in the print media yesterday advising members of the public who have vehicles stored at police facilities throughout the island, that are not the subject of pending police investigations or court proceedings, to make the necessary arrangements to have these vehicles removed within 30 days of the notice. It said failure to do so would result in the JCF taking necessary steps to dispose of these vehicles.
Yesterday, Rose said an audit, which should be completed within this month, will give the police an idea of just how many such vehicles it has in its possession. He was reluctant to hazard a guess as to the numbers.
"We do have some data, but we want to validate what we have, and so, in all the geographic divisions within this 30-day period, what is being requested of divisional commanders in all formations is an audit of how many vehicles, the names of the owners, and other pertinent information relating to the vehicles in terms of how they came into the custody of the police and how long they have been there," he told the Observer.
"It would be difficult to indicate having not yet been privy to the audit numbers because you are talking about 19 geographic divisions across the country in addition to other formations which are acting as storage for these vehicles," the Acting Commissioner of Police said.
In the meantime, the Services Branch head said delinquent motorists were not the only ones at fault for the pile-up.
"Some of the owners are well known; it's not only individual owners who have these vehicles in police custody, there are also vehicles that are there as a result of insurance coverage [issues], where the insurance company would have settled their differences but have not taken possession of the vehicles, obviously, because it would attract some storage costs," he said.
"We have vehicles that have been recovered and no owners have come forward. We have vehicles that were involved in accidents, the determination of which have already been done so they are no longer the subject of investigations. We have vehicles that have been there for quite a long period of time where persons probably say they are leaving the vehicle and will return to collect it and have not done so," ACP Rose detailed further.
He is encouraging individuals to take advantage of the now open window or face further loss.
"I really would encourage those persons who have these items because our police stations are becoming very unsightly, and what we are also trying to do is militate against the risk of losing these vehicles. They are susceptible to theft and removal of parts," ACP Rose said.
Asked whether the police have had such vehicles swiped or scrapped under their noses the Services Branch Head said "I am not saying (we have had incidents of theft), but I am saying we should mitigate the risks".