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The headlights of a venicle as it drives through the darkness in the Heights of Aripo at night.

Operating under the cover of darkness, criminal elements have been using the sleepy and tranquil community of the Heights of Aripo as a dumping ground for the bodies of missing and murdered individuals.

And residents fear the crimes are being fuelled by the lack of street lighting and a police presence in the area.

Their comments came days after the discovery of Andrea Bharatt’s body and three sets of skeletal remains were found.

The shocking discovery has villagers gripped in fear and terror.

Sitting outside her shop, a stone’s throw away from where Bharatt’s body was found, a resident who identified herself as Jay told Guardian Media for years they have been appealing for street lights at certain points of the winding Aripo Road.

Two years ago, Jay said T&TEC installed electricity poles which are yet to be connected with electricity

“We tired begging for electricity. …we don’t know what to do again. Every election is the same thing. All we have been getting are promises,” she complained.

At dusk, Jay said she would close her shop and stay indoors with her two children.

“It’s like a self-imposed curfew. We don’t get out until we see daylight. Yes, we are living in fear. Under the cover of darkness you would see all kinds of strange vehicles coming in. You know its outsiders and they are up to no good.”

Jay said these undesirables have been giving the community a bad name.

“It’s a sad state of affairs.”

She said Bharatt’s body was dumped in an unlit area not too far from her home.

Jay said she wants to believe that Bharatt’s kidnappers poisoned her dog which was chained in front of her yard.

“They didn’t want the dog to alert us….when I got up in the morning it was frothing from its mouth. It eventually died.”

For years, she said the community has been a target for house-breakings, praedial larceny and theft of vehicles.

Nestled on the Northern Range, Aripo is famous for hiking, bird watching, nature trails and farming.

On weekends, people also visit the community for its popular waterfall and caves.

Two months ago, Amanda (not her real name) moved out of her Caparo home with her five children.

The rampant crime in Carapo made her fled.

“I came here for spiritual elevation. I fell in love with the peacefulness of the area. The lush greenery,” she said.

“I didn’t mind not having pipe-borne water and electricity. I felt here would have been safer for myself and children,” she said.

However, within one month of living in the community, thieves broke into Amanda husband’s car and stole his battery.

A report was made to the police, but no arrests were made.

“When they found that young lady’s body last week…it really bothered me. I tell my husband, hun, you sure about this… you sure about living here,” she said.

In a crudely built shack, perched on top of a steep hill, Amanda resides.

Now she does not take any chances.

Her house is guarded by five vicious dogs.

“These days criminals posing as law-abiding citizens. So whenever someone comes calling in front of my home I would come out armed with a cutlass,” she said.

“I stopped walking the road because up here so quiet anybody could kidnap you and that is the end of you,” she said.

Higher up the village, 69-year-old Gordon Valentine said the discovery of bodies and remains has not been the first.

A few years ago, Valentine said a headless corpse was found and a body was discovered under a cylinder near the roadway.

“When these bodies were found the police maintained their patrols for over a month and after that everything went back to normal… we stopped seeing them.”

He said while the police were busy “up and down Aripo last week” bandits tried to rob a female Cepep worker by the junction.

“The woman had to run for her life. These criminals just don’t care.”

Valentine said the community needs a mobile police post and speed humps.

“If we get a police post it would deter them, murderers and kidnappers, from coming in here and doing their nonsense…their stupidness.”

Having lived all his life in Aripo, Valentine said the district needs attention.

“Aripo has been abandoned. We are famous for nothing. We asked for a recreation ground …nothing. We asked for street lights…. well we still waiting.”

Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales promised to send a T&TEC team to Aripo who would file a report which would be submitted to him for review.

“I will do all that I can to help the community,” Gonzales said.