Regional

Fighting farm theft

Police get refurbished vehicle to help protect farmers

Monday, December 31, 2018

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Malvern, St Elizabeth – Back in August 2015, wind energy provider BMR Jamaica donated a $5-million Toyota Hilux pick-up four-door vehicle to the St Elizabeth police to support their fight against praedial larceny (farm theft).

Three years later, a request came for BMR to refurbish the vehicle which had been badly run down as a result of wear and tear.

Pleased with the efforts of the police in combating farm thieves in recent years, BMR which operates a wind-energy farm in Potsdam, Malvern, St Elizabeth obliged. BMR also found a partner for the project in Mandeville-based motor vehicle repair company Neil's Auto Services.

“Because police have done such a phenomenal job we were happy to take on the task of overhauling the vehicle and it was good that BMR partnered with us,” said Ava Tomlin of BMR Jamaica at a recent presentation function in Potsdam.

Head of Neil's Auto, Bunny Neil, who is from a farming family in south St Elizabeth said his background meant he fully understood the needs of the police as they seek to protect farmers.

He urged the police to take good care of the refurbished vehicle and to treat it as “their tool”.

Nathan Samuels of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) told his listeners that the vehicle was especially important since farm theft is on the rise in St Elizabeth. In addition to longstanding livestock theft, criminals were also increasingly stealing vegetables and farm equipment including irrigation tools, he said.

Samuels pleaded that as “much as possible” the police use the vehicle to combat farm theft, in line with its original intent. He also urged private sector operators to follow the example of BMR and Neil's Auto by providing help for the police.

Describing farm theft as a “plague” Donald Simpson (JLP) councilor for the Malvern Division noted that it was costing individuals millions of dollars and forcing many out of farming. It was imperative that more be done to stop such criminals, he said.

“A lot of farmers make tremendous sacrifices and at the end of the day thieves come in and do as they like, sometimes farmers see them and can't do anything…” Simpson said.

– GARFIELD MYERS


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