By Carlena Knight
Larceny, break-ins and robberies remain the most common crimes committed in Antigua and Barbuda.
This was disclosed by Police Commissioner Atlee Rodney as he spoke on the police’s mid-year crime report.
According to Rodney, around 75 percent of the offences in the January to June statistics were related to acquisition crimes – those where an offender derives material gain, such as shoplifting, burglary, theft, and robbery.
“Well, sad to say that those trends with acquisition crimes continue to plague us. When we look at our figures for the first half this is where the majority of crimes are being reported.
“In terms of larceny, in terms of house break-ins, these types of offences continue to dominate our figures. Seventy-five percent of our reports are related to some kind of acquisition and it’s one of the areas that is continuing to be of concern to us,” Rodney said.
The top cop also disclosed that many such crimes are being committed by youth.
“In the past, there was a two-week period where we had between four or five robberies and that obviously was a concern to us, first in the police force and then, of course, in the general public.
“What is ironic about that is three arrests have been made out of those robberies and the ages 14, 17, 23 – which now tells you that there is a new trend of the type of persons who are committing these crimes that we would normally associate with grown individuals,” he explained.
“Here, you have a 14-year-old, a 17-year-old and a 23-year-old getting involved in these types of crimes. It obviously sends a message to us that we have to look out for our young persons.
“Even in some of the other offences that we have, the age group is 18-year-old, 17-year-old, 19-year-old.”
Rodney believes that this new trend could be as a result of their upbringing.
“That might not be our field but I was an investigator before and I continue to interact sometimes even with the criminals to get a feel as to why they do certain things, but one of the big problems that we have starts in the home.
“Those young persons are not given any sort of guidance and given that sort of discipline they need from home; it’s like they are neglected and I think because of that they find themselves associated with the wrong crowds and there is really no one to pull them back in line,” he said.
“Some persons when you speak to them, they would explain some of the challenges that they have at home and yes you may have some economic problems but most of the time it’s just persons that are misguided and don’t have anyone to really put them back on track.”
He is adamant that if society does not start to address this new trend immediately it will create some very dangerous criminals in a few years’ time.
Rodney mentioned that although there is new legislation for those minors who are involved in criminal activities to encourage rehabilitation, the effectiveness of the Act may need to be addressed as they have seen some repeated offenders.
He added that the job cannot be left to law enforcement alone but must involve all facets of society – parents, the church and communities.