RESIDENTS of Angels Estate Phase I in Spanish Town, St Catherine, are expressing frustration at the ‘alarming’ number of break-ins in the community since the start of the year and are equally fearful that the crime will continue into the Yuletide season if the police do not intervene.
More than five break-ins have occurred within the last two weeks, residents who spoke with the Jamaica Observer have confirmed.
Up to November 23, the police recorded 58 break-ins in the St Catherine North Police Division which covers Angels Estate.
That is four fewer break-ins than the 62 that occurred in 2018 over the same period, according to the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s periodic serious and violent crimes review released on Sunday.
The residents, who have all asked not to be identified out of fear for their safety, indicated that the break-ins have occurred at homes where occupants were absent for more than seven hours, suggesting that the criminals created a profile of their victims.
“I left the house about 8:30 am and came back at about 4:30 pm. When I opened the front door I noticed the place is ransacked — things are in a particular place that you wouldn’t have left them. There were like drawers, clothes and stuff, like things that they were going to take with them were in the living room,” one resident recalled.
“I get curious and start walking around by entering bedrooms and stuff; the place was a mess. Drawers were pulled out and clothes thrown all over with things knocked over,” the female resident added.
The thieves reportedly took off with four phones inculding a locked iPhone, tablet, laptop, US$350, over J$100,000, items of clothing, shoes and jewellery.
The burglary was subsequently reported to the police.
“They came and said nothing really. Their worry was ‘Hurry up and fix back the place because these guys are going to come back.’ That’s what they said,” the resident recounted.
The criminals reportedly gained entrance to the house from the back porch by knocking out its concrete balusters then prying open the steel within.
“I am traumatised really, but I’m trying to hold it together. If I leave the house, when I come back while putting the key in the door I have to take a deep breath before I open the door. I’m really going through a rough time right now and with all of that my daughter was held up at gunpoint and her phone was taken on The UWI (University of the West Indies) campus. I am going through a lot,” the victim said.
Another female resident explained to the Observer that the thieves struck two Wednesdays ago, sometime after 6:00 am when she left for work.
“When I got home minutes to seven [o’clock] and opened the front door I noticed things scattered on the floor. I was saying to myself that I didn’t feel or hear of any earthquake or anything. Then, when I looked further I saw the back door ajar and the grille open. From I saw that I said, ‘yes, I’ve been hit’ because I know they have been going through and burglarising people’s homes. When I went into the room, things were scattered all over,” the woman disclosed.
She said at that point, she called her neighbours to inform them that thieves had broken into her house and to call the police.
The resident said the criminals used a garden fork to pry the back door to the premises open and then to pry the grille open.
She said the criminals made off with $16,000 in cash, gold jewellery, two tablets, shoes, and a power bank.
“I’m getting over the whole thing now, but at first it was shocking. I’m okay now and just slowly getting back to myself,” the woman said.
She added also, that her house was one of three that were burgled that day.
A male resident described the frequency with which the burglaries occur as disturbing.
“In the past few weeks, we’ve been seeing a very alarming number of burglaries. They seem to be trying to move with small or electronic items — computers, jewellery, money — because they appear to be coming on foot. The police have said we live in a dormitory community where everybody leaves by nine [o’clock] for work. So it’s really after that time that we have been seeing the robberies happening in the days,” another resident explained to the Observer.
“Everybody is frustrated, bewildered, and heartbroken. We’re used to Angels being a very quiet, peaceful place and not really having much of an issue. I think the quietness and the peacefulness have sort of crept up or backfired on us in terms of us being easy prey for thieves,” the man said, adding that the police have not responded “seriously” to the reports.
The Observer contacted commanding officer in charge of the St Catherine North Police Division Beau Rigaby, who initially said that he would have to brief himself on the matter before commenting.
Several attempts to reach Rigaby since that time have been unsuccessful.