Butchers and other individuals who purchase stolen agricultural produce and livestock have been warned to desist from committing this illegal act.
The warning came from Commissioner of Police (CoP) Colin John, who, while speaking on last Sunday’s Issue at Hand on WE FM radio, called on the judiciary to hand down harsher sentences for persons brought before the court for such acts. This, he said, would deter them from further involvement and others from committing the offence.
He said that he was told of an incident where an individual purchased four animals for as low as EC$400.
“So, you could definitely see that these animals were stolen,” John said.
Commissioner John admitted that praedial larceny was a problem as borne out by the recent (June 12) arrest of a 17-year-old for the theft of one Bull (Cattle) valued at $4,500.00.
And to complicate things further, John pointed out that persons who engage in the theft of agricultural produce and livestock often do not reside in the communities where the acts are perpetrated.
Perpetrators were utilizing rented vehicles as a ‘tool’ in carrying out their nefarious acts he added, and referenced that the police have discovered stolen agricultural items during stop and search exercises.
Another worrying trend was that persons who have been arrested and charged would be offered bail and, in some instances, go out and involve themselves in the same activity.
Overall, the issue was a problem for the police and farmers, and it was a major issue during the volcanic eruption in 2021, John said.
He explained that the police had to ensure that the red zones were secured which included the searching of vehicles when entering and leaving such areas.
The Rural Constable Programme (RCP) was established in June, 2010 when 20 rural constables were commissioned as part of a new division of the Royal SVG Police Force.
The measure was taken in an effort to bolster the enforcement of the Agricultural Produce and Livestock (Prevention of Theft) Act of 2007, in light of increased incidences of praedial larceny.
The RCP was discontinued in 2019 after it was deemed ineffective, producing few arrests and even fewer convictions.