Downtown business interests on edge amid increased criminal attacks
Several business operators and vendors who do business in downtown Kingston are calling on the police to increase their presence in and around the business district because persons there daily have noticed an increase in the number of break-ins and robberies taking place in the busy commercial hub.
“Things are getting from bad to worse. We are being targeted by criminals. The number of break-ins is rapidly increasing, and as a result, we are calling on the authorities to do something about this problem,” said the operator of a store on Princess Street.
The male store owner, who asked not to be named out of fear that he may be targeted for speaking out, said it was just days ago that he arrived at work to find that criminals have broken into his store by using a device to cut into the metal door that is used to close the establishment.
Over on Beckford Street, a vendor said criminals have become so barefaced that they recently held up and robbed a woman of her jewelry and demonstrated extreme brazenness in the process.
The vendor said while escaping from the scene, one of the robbers realised that the pendant from the chain he had stolen had fallen into the bosom of his victim, and seemingly without fear, he stopped and turned back, collared the woman, and took out the pendant from her bosom.
The robber then turned around and fled the scene a second time.
In a section of the Parade area, a store owner said it is believed that criminals are placing members of their group at strategic locations to monitor the movements of police personnel.
“We are hearing that when they place these persons at some parts of the town, they will pass back information to criminals on the ground to inform them and disclose the routes that police are travelling,” said the business operator.
When contacted on the assertions, police confirmed the reports about the break-ins, and also said in some instances they are getting calls that criminals are travelling around in groups with as many as eight members.
“Some members in the commercial space have been calling us and complaining, and as a result, we have stepped up our operations to clamp down on these individuals who are creating problems in the downtown area,” said a senior officer who asked not to be named, as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Evidence of how brazen criminals have generally become is evidenced by a social media video in which a robber is seen forcibly taking a woman’s handbag inside a business establishment in the presence of numerous onlookers, including men.
It is not clear where and when the incident took place, but the video showed the brazen robber tussling with the woman while she screamed for help and tried to fend off her assailant with, noticeably, very little assistance from the onlookers.
The police said what is seen in the video is a tactic that criminals employ when they believe people are too afraid to speak out or intervene.