Police: Uptick in armed robberies reported in recent months

Police: Uptick in armed robberies reported in recent months
Assistant Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander. (FILE PHOTO)

Police say no trend of women being targeted

Following a spate of women being robbed at gunpoint over the weekend, Assistant Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander said yesterday authorities have observed an uptick in armed robberies in recent months, but there has been no evidence to suggest women have been increasingly targeted.

Authorities reported five separate armed robberies on Saturday.

In four of these incidents, women were robbed.

In one incident, a woman was shot and robbed of her handbag as she was leaving a business on Bahama Avenue around 7:00 p.m.

She was listed in stable condition in hospital.

Speaking to Eyewitness News, Fernander said these recent incidents were crimes of opportunity.

“There is nothing to say that females are being increasingly targeted,” he said.

“We have not seen that trend; just crimes of opportunity that you are seeing.”

Asked whether armed robberies have trended upward over the last year, Ferguson said he was unable to speak to statistics, but authorities have observed more armed robberies in recent months.

“We have seen [that] armed robberies have picked up, maybe for the past two, three months or so,” he said.

According to Fernander, police observed incidents of businesses being robbed and people being held at gunpoint and robbed of their vehicles when arriving at their homes in recent months.

But he said police have had success in disrupting a number of theft rings and have charged numerous people in connection with a number of recent matters.

Last month, police charged Edward Colebrooke, 20, of Solider Road, with a string of armed robberies that spanned from April to September.

Fernander said, “Just prior to that we sent another three individuals [to court], so it appears as though there are different pockets of individuals throughout [the island] who continue to rob and as we identify them, we try to bring them forth and put them before the courts.

“All of those are what I would call a ring of armed robberies, especially those ones which just went to court for recent [incidents] and even some shootings — two shootings within that nine count where persons were shot during the robbery — they were charged as well.

“These were recent matters within the high rise of armed robberies within the past three months. So, you can see we are doing some things as well.

With less than two months remaining in the year, Fernander said police have been suppressing crime, and the public can expect increased police presence and intelligence-led operations that will target offenders as law enforcement seek to reduce crime.

He also encouraged motorists, shoppers and business owners, in particular, to be more vigilant.

“We always say to members of the public and especially around this kind of time leading up to Christmas, you have to be aware of your surroundings,” Fernander said.

“You can’t give these fellows an opportunity to target you.

“Ladies moving around with big bags; fellows will always suspect that [you] may have plenty of money in that bag and they will take a chance in trying to attack people and do that.

“But again, nothing as to identify a trend with females.”

Fernander also urged business owners who employ people in the lead up to the Yuletide season to conduct proper background checks, as authorities have noted a number of incidents in the past where employees conspired to rob their employer.

“Know who you are hiring around these kinds of times because we note a trend in the past where we find employees, especially those being hired around this time, they set up their employers to get robbed,” Fernander advised.

“We note that, so they have to be very careful around this time with who they hire.

“A lot of people just say let me hire a few people just for the Christmas season without even doing a background check on them to see who they are. They should be aware of that.

“You find individuals right in your camp will set you up, so you have to pay attention.”

Fernander also cautioned business owners against using security officers to do work outside the scope of their security duties, saying the practice leaves the business exposed.

“Let them focus on the security, inside and outside,” he said.

“I see some business establishments [where] they have security officers, [instead] of doing his job they have them doing various jobs in the stores [such as] packing groceries and he is the security officer…”