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ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Clamp down on Half-Way-Tree Road phone thieves

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Kingston, Jamaica is a unique and beautiful place, which I promote. But we have some challenges which I believe we can and should address.

One such challenge is the roaming presence of alleged thieves living in the gully near the Medical Associates Hospital and specifically at the intersection of Half Way Tree Road and Balmoral Avenue.

I had an unfortunate incident in that area two Fridays ago when upon arriving at the intersection. I stopped at the red light waiting for the traffic signal to change. While waiting, I picked up my cellular phone and began to look on a message, when suddenly a hand reached across my face and expertly grabbed my phone away from me. The man ran like “Bolt” across the road with my phone, not to be seen again.

I reported the matter the following day to the nearest police station and was told by a concerned officer upon arrival, that the area where the incident took place (and by extension New Kingston) is well known for the theft of phones and other articles from unsuspecting drivers, including police officers – three of whom lost their phones in similar manner the week before I did.

When I enquired what could be done about this very serious recurring issue, I was told by different individuals who had (or knew of) similar incidents, that some of the perpetrators of these crimes at that location are allegedly gay men who are routinely defended by Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ), upon the pretext that they are being targeted because of their particular sexual orientation. They appear to be untouchables.

A number of things are wrong with this picture.

1) These men should not be allowed to remain in the gully as they pose a very serious security threat. The police should insist that they leave…and remove them if necessary.

2) A thief, is a thief, is a thief, regardless of orientation, and should be apprehended and brought to justice. I would shudder to think that the allegation that JFJ defends these unscrupulous men when they commit these acts, could be true.

3) Law abiding citizens are being made to drastically change our usual and customary behaviour, such as driving with windows open, in fear that our belongings (phone, bags etc) may be stolen by men who rove the streets during the days or at nights.

I do appreciate the need for us all to be security conscious on our roads, but this has gone to another level and since we know of the perpetrators and their mode of operation, the police should set up a covert operation and catch them in the act.

4) Someone who gets away with a minor offence (such as stealing a phone), will likely try again and graduate to more serious crimes, such as the ones reported in our newspaper each day. Note, there is often a link with petty crimes and bigger ones.

Crime is not unique to our country. Many major cities around the world have issues such as the one I described above. Let's do something about our issue….let's stop these men now (whoever they may be) and prevent them from making a victim of someone else tomorrow.

Alfred McDonald

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