ST JAMES, Jamaica — President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, Oral Heaven, says he and his peers have been left rattled by last week’s break-in at Hi-Lo’s Fairview location in St James.
Heaven says they will be moving to do less cash transactions in an effort to minimise their exposure to thieves.
"Yes, we are concerned, it's frightening. That Hi-Lo incident has a lot of us thinking ‘what next?’," he said in an interview with OBSERVER ONLINE.
"It is scary, it is a concern to the business community. It is a concern to the members of the Chamber, overall. It shows that these guys sit down and plan these things," he said.
On January 20, thieves gained access by drilling a hole in the rear of the building which houses a supermarket, remittance outlet, pharmacy and other businesses. They made off with an undetermined sum of cash, electronics and other valuables.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the robbery was well planned, with a stunt driver posing a distraction and noise from the vehicle masking sounds from the break-in. The robbery comes on the heels of others within Montego Bay’s business community, last year, when small supermarkets were particularly hard hit.
Heaven said his members have discussed the issue and have come up with a plan.
"I guess we'll be pushing for more point of sale transactions, less cash sales... so that criminals will know that there is no cash to get there," he told OBSERVER ONLINE.
The police investigation is ongoing, but Heaven believes it will take more than that to address the issue.
"It will require more social intervention and more work from the authorities," he stated.
"If people are afraid that when they get caught the full book of the law will be thrown at them, that will deter them," he added.