Praedial thieves costing St Ann farmers dearly; cops vow to stop them

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At least two livestock farmers from communities within South East St Ann are appealing to the police to conduct more patrols there in light of praedial thieves badly affecting their livelihood.

Cattle and goat thieves are said to be wreaking havoc in communities like Claremont, Golden Grove, Moneague and other surrounding areas, leaving farmers deprived of sleep and in severe financial difficulties.

The calls come on the heels of an exchange of gunfire between the police and suspected cattle thieves in Ramble Road near Claremont in the parish on Friday, October 2.

Three men have subsequently been arrested and charged for various offences, including larceny of cattle and shooting with intent.

The St Ann police have subsequently vowed to continue their efforts to apprehend the criminals terrorising residents and stealing their livestock.

But in addition to the economic losses, two farmers who spoke to Loop News by telephone, said they were also suffering from sleep deprivation, as they have to constantly ensure their animals are secured throughout the nights, when the thieves mostly strike.

“Not even sleep yuh can get anymore mi a tell yuh youth, cause the man dem (praedial thieves) determine fi tek yuh goat and cow dem,” one of the farmers explained.

The 50-year-old who asked that his identity be withheld due to fears of being victimised, said last year he lost 10 goats.

He elaborated that “Mi normally tie out mi goat dem a few chains away from mi house. Mi never really worry ’cause mi did have two bad dogs… Weh di man dem do is poison mi dog dem first, and den dem mek dem move and tek mi 10 goats dem.”

He said he lost thousands of dollars from the theft of his animals.

“So because a dat weh happen to mi last year, I can’t sleep in peace again. Mi get seven goats now, and mi have a pen near the back a mi house now. So mi have to just constantly a watch dem throughout the night now,” he said.

The livestock farmer indicated that praedial thieves have constantly been plaguing such rural communities.

He is therefore calling on the police to step up their patrols of a number of communities, including Claremont, Golden Grove, Moneague, Orange Park and Walkerswood.

Meanwhile, another farmer, who would only identify himself as ‘Willie’, due to fears of also being victimised, suggested as well that the police should step up their patrols.

“We need more ah what happen uppa Ramble (Road) fi happen in all communities,” he said, alluding to the police foiling the attempts of thieves to escape with two calves a little over a weeks ago.

“Trust mi, if we have more patrols, the thief dem wouldn’t just come as dem feel suh. Back in June mi lose a bull valued at around $200,000 to di tiefing boy dem enuh, and nothing nuh come out ah it. A man mi know up a Camperdown (district in St Ann) lose four nice cow and some goats,” Willie further revealed.

He also argued that it was unfair for farmers to be investing heavily in their livestock and repeatedly suffering losses, especially at a time where the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated their financial problems.

“Sometimes yuh lose thousands of dollars and yuh get back nothing when a man steal yuh animals. Right now Corona(virus) come in and further mash up things fi wi, so it hard,” the farmer who hails from one of the several affected communities in St Ann, disclosed.

The issue of the theft of livestock was raised at the St Ann Municipal Corporation (SAMC) meeting on Thursday by Lambert Weir, Councillor for the Claremont Division in South East St Ann. He detailed that residents in the division have lodged complaints to him that they have suffered heavy losses as a result of the frequent theft.

File photo of stolen goats recovered in a rural Jamaica community some time ago.

The residents, he said, are pleading to the police to assist them.

But acting commander of the St Ann police, Superintendent Carlos Russell, said his officers have been working with the affected communities, and more patrols will be carried out.

“We have also seen where in especially the Moneague and Claremont areas, an increase in the larceny of cattle and goats. That is something that we are working on with the communities,” said Russell.

In detailing the operations of the praedial thieves, the superintendent said they were often from outside the communities, but had contacts with persons residing in the areas.

“What we are seeing though is that most of these persons who are involved (in the theft of animals), they are not from the communities. Persons are coming (from) as far as Kingston, Parry Town (and) St Ann’s Bay (in St Ann)

“However, these persons have contact in the communities; persons who are spotting out the animals for them, and calling them in at the opportune time,” he shared.

Russell assured that the police will continue their efforts of working with the affected communities, including Claremont.

“We had some meetings with some of the stakeholders there and we are trying our best to rid the area of these criminals,” he said.

The superintendent confirmed too, that the police have been making headway in their efforts to apprehend the praedial thieves.

“Up to last week, we (the police) would have had some success in intercepting a motor vehicle that was transporting two cows and the armed robbers engaged the police in a shoot-out. One of the men was eventually shot and he was held,” he continued.

Late Thursday, the police’s Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) reported that two of the men who were last week listed as persons of interest in the aftermath of that incident in Ramble district, were arrested and charged.

The men, 38-year-old Terrence Harrilal of St Ann’s Bay, and 27-year-old Raniel Boreland, otherwise called ‘Country’, of Parry Town in Ocho Rios, both in the parish, were handed over to the police by relatives on Wednesday, October 7.

After an interview in the presence of their attorneys, they were charged along with a third man, 30-year-old Shavann Scott. The police arrested Scott shortly after the incident on Friday, October 2.

All three men have been charged with larceny of cattle, shooting with intent, illegal possession of firearm, and illegal possession of ammunition.

The charges stem from allegations that about 12:35 am on Friday, October 2, a police team reportedly intercepted a Toyota Probox motorcar along the Ramble main road, and signalled the driver of the vehicle to stop.

The driver refused and sped off, resulting in the vehicle crashing into a section of a police service jeep in the attempt to escape.

Armed men aboard the vehicle reportedly opened gunfire at the police, who returned the gunfire.

The Probox then sped off once more.

The police team pursued it and found it abandoned along a section of the roadway.

When the police searched the motor vehicle, they found two calves inside.

The motor vehicle was seized and the owner of the calves identified, while detectives continued to explore leads.

Later the same day, law enforcers arrested a man and a woman in connection with the investigation. The man, who had a gunshot wound to the leg, was assisted to the hospital for treatment, and was later released into police custody.

The woman was later released after being interviewed, while detectives listed four men as persons of interest. Two of them – Harrilal and Boreland – were handed over by their relatives.

The two other persons of interest are still being sought, the police further reported.

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