Petrol stations’ peril
JAMAICA Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) President Errol Edwards says solutions “to mitigate or cauterise” the impact of robberies on service stations are a constant feature of frequent membership meetings as robbers continue to prey on the entities, relieving them of quantities of cash.
Responding to queries from the Jamaica Observer regarding reports from the JGRA’s membership about incidents of theft, Edwards said there have been several reports. He said the JGRA — while unable to quantify the incidents, as not all robberies are reported — has service stations in several parts of the island which have been affected by criminals.
“We are aware of incidents and it is something that we try to guard against; we encourage the pump attendants to reduce the amount of cash on their person at any one time. It is a result of what is taking place in the society right now — the level of crime,” Edwards told the Observer on Friday.
He said the robberies do not appear to be confined to any particular locale, but are across the board.
“It’s not that it’s more prevalent in any one area, and it might be hard to quantify. I can well imagine that there are incidents that might not be reported, but it is just that persons have to try to not make themselves targets by keeping large amounts of cash on their person,” he said.
“Generally speaking, everywhere that persons use cash they are at risk, so they just have to be very, very careful when it comes to handling cash — and our members are constantly reminded about this, and in our frequent meetings these are things that we bring to the fore,” the JGRA head said.
Asked what the protocol is when employees are robbed on their shifts, Edwards said, “If it’s a situation where it’s a robbery the matter would have to be reported to the police and the incident investigated.”
Asked if pump attendants who are robbed while on the job have to account for the funds, he said: “The companies have policies. If there are policies and the employee does not follow [them] and expose the company to those situations it is a management decision as to how they would treat with that.”
However, it would appear that not all incidents are being reported to the police. Commanding officer for St Andrew South, Senior Superintendent of Police Kirk Ricketts told the Observer that no reports of such incidents have come to his attention.
Likewise, head of operations for the St Catherine North Police Division Deputy Superintendent Camendo Thoms told the Observer that no reports have surfaced in that locale but said a combination of foot patrols, aggressive stop and search operations, and patrols at nights with flashing lights might be a mitigating factor.
He said the division, which has beefed up its numbers by deploying a number of probationary officers from the police training academy in the parish, has increased its vigilance.
“We will continue to be like that even throughout the Christmas. We are trying just about our best to minimise,” he told the Observer.
On Friday, Superintendent Christopher Phillips, commander for the St Catherine South Police Division, also said the police in that vicinity have not received any complaints.
“We do not have that report any at all. And when these things happen, and people don’t report it, as the police, when we don’t have the report we can’t do anything about it, and so we ask them to report,” he told the Observer.
In July this year one man was charged after his attempts to rob a gas station attendant on Slipe Road in Kingston backfired. A security guard opened gunfire, resulting in the would-be robber escaping on foot. He was subsequently arrested and charged with assault with intent to rob, illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, and using a firearm to commit a felony.
Thieves in April this year pulled off a multimillion-dollar robbery at a service station in Gutters, St Elizabeth. The men reportedly stole $24 million and escaped in a waiting motor car. Then in December last year gunmen held up and robbed a petrol station in Knockpatrick, south Manchester, just hours after robbing another service station in Cross Keys where employees were reportedly tied up and kept hostage. During the incident, personnel at an adjoining mini mart were also robbed of cash.