Members of the public are being urged to be vigilant and take preventative measures following an increase in home invasions in the last few months.
The advice came from Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob who confirmed that there has been an increase in reports of robberies at homes in the last three months.
Within 48 hours, at least three home invasions have been reported in South Trinidad. Earlier this week, a retired game warden shot and killed an armed assailant who was trying to steal his son’s van at their Tableland home.
One of the robberies occurred around 3.15 am on Wednesday at the home of a retired medical doctor in Palmiste. Michael Leon Poi, 87, was asleep when he was awoken by a loud crashing sound. He was confronted by three men armed with firearms who robbed him of an undisclosed sum of cash. They escaped in a white wagon.
On Tuesday, Moruga farmer Raj Buchoon, 41, was watching television at his Penal Rock Road home around 5.30 am when stormed into the house. Armed with two cutlasses and a shotgun, the men announced a hold-up. He was then beaten with the cutlass and tied up. They took his keys and drove off with his Y12 AD Wagon in which he also had $300. The assailants, however, did not get far with his wagon. They ran off the road a short distance away. They then escaped in a silver Aqua.
In another incident on Tuesday, Ramsawak Maharaj, 60, and Zobida Maharaj, 55, a sales representative, were at their Marabella home around 9.20 pm when they were accosted by two mask-wearing intruders. One of the men was armed with a knife. They were robbed of $200, a Samsung J2 Mini valued $600, and a $1,000 Samsung J2. The men then ran off. However, the police subsequently arrested a 19-year-old suspect from Morne Coco Road, Maraval and the Samsung J2 was recovered.
In a telephone interview, Jacob said that in the past two to three months they have seen a number of home invasions reports. He said it appears that these crimes were being committed by four of five different groups of criminals.
However, he assured the public that the police have arrested several perpetrators for these crimes.
“We don’t want to panic people. We are on top things,” said Jacob who alluded to the arrest of assailants who earlier this year robbed Chinese nationals at their home and business place in San Juan. He added that the police have also arrested and charged several people in connection with home invasions in Central and South Trinidad and also in West earlier this year. The DCP said the various Criminal Investigation Departments within the police divisions were working hand in hand and are also being assisted by other specialised units in the service. With fewer people in public due to the COVID-19 regulations, Jacob believes criminals have shifted their modus operandi to home invasions.
He said housebreaking offenders also run the risk of encountering their victims at home. Jacob advised people to take additional situational crime prevention measures to make themselves hard targets for criminals. “We are asking people to be a bit more vigilant in relation to their whereabouts and routines.” He also advised people to secure their homes properly and report any strange people or vehicles in their area.