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Car theft on the rise in upper St Andrew

The St Andrew North police, in seeking to curtail rampant car thefts in Havendale and Meadowbrook have seen a ballooning of the practice in other sections of the division.

According to the police, there are also concerns about the reluctance of victims to report the theft of their vehicles.

The Gleaner understands, from several accounts, that car owners living in sections of Golden Spring and Stony Hill in St Andrew are now being preyed upon by thieves, with as many as 12 reports of vehicles stolen in under a year. Residents, however, believe the true number of thefts is much higher than the reports.

Last September, two were stolen in one night during a party and several were broken into.

“It’s almost as if they are sure to get away. Not only are they stealing vehicles but several vehicles are damaged after failed attempts. The next ting is that when dem come to steal cars, a gun dem a come with. That mean if dem can break your house or your business place, dem a go do it,” a resident of the St Andrew community said.

Superintendent of Police Tamika Service, head of the St Andrew North Police Division, told The Gleaner that while she has not had any recent reports of vehicles being stolen in Stony Hill, car theft is an issue in the division.

From reports reaching The Gleaner, around how often and the time of day the thefts are carried out, it appears the thugs believe the division is a safe haven for larceny of motor vehicles.

Most of the incidents occur before daybreak, between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

“I am not saying no (to areas being targeted) ... but if they (victims) don’t report it, how are we going to know? ... Most of the vehicles that are stolen, they take them to both St Catherine and St Andrew South Division,” Service told The Gleaner.

According to Service, the Criminal Investigation Branch generally treats with car stealing but, because of prevalence in certain areas that she inherited when she took over the division, a special unit was created.

“We have formed a special team to treat with larceny of motor vehicles ... . When I came last September, the issue with larceny of motor vehicles was really concentrated in Havendale and Meadowbrook. It was probably six a week or more. Since we have formed the team, we have not had that issue in Havendale but it appears that the effect has ballooned right across the division. Our team has extended across the division to treat with it,” she said.

The latest car theft occurred last Thursday in the wee hours of the morning in Stony Hill.

According to reports reaching The Gleaner, a grey Mark X was stolen from inside a driveway on Seaview Road.

According to residents, that was the second Mark X stolen from the community recent times. The other, belonging to a popular entertainer, was stolen in April.

The Gleaner understands that neither of the incidents was reported, but the vehicle belonging to the entertainer was found scrapped in St Catherine.

Service said she was baffled as to why owners would settle for millions of dollars in losses rather than report to the police.

She said the police have had success in recovering stolen vehicles.

“I would really encourage those persons who had their car stolen ... a vehicle is worth, depending on type, let’s say up to $800,000 and up in the millions and [why would] people feel comfortable losing these and not reporting it to the police. We have recovered a lot of vehicles, so who says those that are not reported could not be recovered,” Service told The Gleaner.

According to the latest police statistics on serious crimes, the St Andrew North Division is the only of three police jurisdictions in the parish with an increase in robberies.

As at July 15 this year, the police recorded a 23 per cent increase in robberies.

A total of 27 incidents were reported when compared to 22 for the corresponding period in 2022.

It should also be noted that robberies are differentiated from break-ins and are generally related to instances of theft from a person or person’s property.