Trinidad: Thieves pose as volunteers, steal from flood-hit residents

Men remove an item of discarded funiture from the yard of Greenvale Park, La Horquetta resident yesterday.

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) Po­lice were put on alert yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, af­ter re­ports that groups of men pos­ing as vol­un­teers of­fer­ing to re­move dam­aged house­hold items in Green­vale, La Hor­quet­ta, were in fact im­posters who were steal­ing from the flood-hit res­i­dents.

Of­fi­cers said these would-be vol­un­teers have been go­ing to homes where fur­ni­ture had been scat­tered about and pick­ing out items which they could sal­vage, pack­ing them on­to wait­ing trucks and dri­ving off with them, of­ten with­out the own­ers of the homes even aware. If by chance, they are chal­lenged at any time, they claim to be work­ing for var­i­ous vol­un­teer group at­tached to state agen­cies tasked with help­ing the res­i­dents to re­move the items.

Sev­er­al res­i­dents yes­ter­day told Guardian Me­dia they ini­tial­ly gen­uine­ly be­lieved the men were vol­un­teers aid­ing with the dis­card­ing of dam­aged fur­ni­ture and house­hold items, on­ly to find out lat­er that they had in fact been swin­dled. Oth­ers, how­ev­er, caught on to the ruse be­cause they had moved out their fur­ni­ture dur­ing clean-up ac­tiv­i­ties and were told to wait for bonafide of­fi­cials from the Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment to vis­it to make as­sess­ments.

As a re­sult of the re­ports, po­lice of­fi­cers were a bit more strin­gent con­cern­ing en­try in­to the area yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young was made aware of the sit­u­a­tion and said he would ad­vise of­fi­cers to be alert.

How­ev­er, there were benev­o­lent and gen­uine vol­un­teers still present in the com­mu­ni­ty help­ing the hun­dreds of res­i­dents who had been dev­as­tat­ed by the week­end flood­ing.

One of the was three-time So­ca Monarch Aaron “Voice” St. Louis who vis­it­ed the area with a crew to hand out sup­plies. He promised to re­turn to­day af­ter re­al­is­ing the scope of the dev­as­ta­tion in the com­mu­ni­ty.

“We com­ing back with pow­er wash­ers and gonna help them with man­pow­er,” Voice told Guardian Me­dia af­ter giv­ing out the sup­plied he went in­to the com­mu­ni­ty with.

Win­sie Ann Cuffie and her char­i­ty group, Win­sie’s Trea­sured Hearts, al­so vis­it­ed the flood-strick­en area and dis­trib­uted food and oth­er sup­plies.

Ef­forts to con­tact Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith to find out if he in­tend­ed to im­ple­ment any ex­tra se­cu­ri­ty mea­sures in the com­mu­ni­ty as a re­sult of yes­ter­day’s sit­u­a­tion were un­suc­cess­ful as he did not an­swer his cell­phone. How­ev­er, the TTPS com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­part­ment said they had no of­fi­cial re­ports of any such in­ci­dents yes­ter­day.

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