Vendors and others should provide information to the police to stop the Regent Street robbers

Dear Editor,

I had my phone stolen in front of the Esso Service Station on Regent and King Streets on Wednesday afternoon, April 21. I wish to appeal to the Commissioner of Police and relevant ranks to intervene in cases where the perpetrators are known criminals. Second, I want to advise all shoppers/passers-by to be extremely cautious when traversing that area as it has become more dangerous. Third, vendors who are affected and fed up with these criminal elements should band together along with the police and stop these criminals from having a field day at the expense of hard-working citizens. Fourth, phone companies should implement more security measures to deal with this seemingly endemic issue.

My experience: While I was walking down the street talking on my smart phone, a guy came from behind and snatched it, damaging my spectacles in the process. Immediately after this, another guy approached me, who I believe was in collusion with the thief, shouting that I shouldn’t pursue the phone-snatcher because “Duh man got a gun, duh man got a gun.” I took a calculated risk and decided to pursue the thief, also with the hope that I would spot the usual police foot-patrol.

Walking quickly behind the perpetrator, I soon lost track of him as he started to run, and my impaired vision didn’t allow me to see where he disappeared. I still wonder, what if I had shouted out and raised an alarm, would anyone have pursued or stopped the thief?

I then suspended my SIM at GT&T’s Church Street branch. After reading about the locking of telephones (and other security options for stolen phones) in the KN Peeping Tom column I wondered why I wasn’t told about that phone-locking feature. Was it applicable to my case? I had my account updated a few months ago as required.

I made a report at the Brickdam Police Station and while there, some vendors came to say that they know who the thief was and that they had made previous reports “even to the Commander” about this person and his friends. It was then that I learnt that a small gang operates in front of the Esso Service Station and surrounding stores. This gang steals (snatches, choke-and-rob) and molests vendors there.

What puzzles me is if complaints were made, and the gang members (or this particular thief) and their hide-out/home is well known, what are the police and vendors doing about it? I sincerely believe that if the vendors and other law-abiding citizens are serious about stopping this scourge, then more can be done by providing authentic information to the police.

I know about the trauma that such an ordeal brings and wish to offer my sympathy to all who have had to endure such a horrific experience. I’ve been told to avoid the area, and now I’ve begun to think more seriously about how I traverse the downtown areas. My hope is that sooner rather than later, crimes of this nature can be reduced and the criminals, especially at that Regent Street location, be brought to justice.

The theft of a phone is more than loss of property; it’s more like a piece of your life which has been snatched away. My phone was an integral part of my business and social life, and I’m now getting accustomed to life without a smart phone, for now. But more importantly, I’m really grateful that I wasn’t harmed and that I still have life and can go on without a phone – which can be replaced.

Yours faithfully,
Kencil Banwarie.

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