Bandit posing as BRAGSA worker hits institutions
by Lyf Compton
Police are on the hunt for a bandit or bandits who posed as employees of the Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA), gaining access to several schools and institutions, and making off with workers’ money.
The thefts began last week, and in the case of at least one primary school, the missing money caused coworkers to blame each other.
A female teacher at the Dorsetshire Hill Government School told SEARCHLIGHT that at about 8:15 a.m. on Monday, someone called the school, claiming to be calling on behalf of one “Keith Williams”, an electrician at BRAGSA.
BRAGSA has no such employee, but the caller went on to state that someone would be sent to the school to install fans.
A man arrived at the school at 9:15 am and asked for the principal, introduced himself as a BRAGSA employee and proceeded to take measurements and make markings on the walls while displaying a screwdriver, a knife and a pair of pliers.
“He said he came to install nine fans and asked where we wanted them. He was checking outlets and he knew which outlets were not working when he came,” the teacher explained, strengthening the theory that the con man had inside information or previously worked with a BRAGSA team.
BRAGSA routinely works with private contractors on various jobs.
The teacher said that throughout the visit, the man spent quite a bit of time on his phone and could be heard enquiring why the team with the fans were taking so long to come to his location.
“He knew the BRAGSA team was in Barrouallie at one point…and we asked him where his tools were but he said he was calling them to bring his tools and they have him ‘bleaching’ out.
“He said the team gone Barrouallie and they will bring the fans and tools,” the teacher said.
The deception resulted in two teachers being deprived of cash, EC$100 in one case and EC$200, the other.
The teacher described the thief as having a brown complexion, being around five feet eight inches tall and wearing a pair of brown three-quarter length cargo pants. He also carried a bag and never took off his disposable blue and white mask as per the COVID-19 protocol.
“At one point he even said he found the problem with an outlet and borrowed a teacher’s charger to test it. He even sat down there with us and was talking, and up and down in the class, mingling,” the teacher explained while adding that the theory is that the conman went into their bags when they were distracted.
“He had a knife. I think he was equipped to attack if we caught him,” she said while noting that the security officer was not present because of a personal matter.
The bandit is also said to have struck, among other institutions, the Mental Health Centre and the Lewis Punnett Home at Glen, the Sion Hill Government School, the Thompson Home at Richmond Hill, the Kingstown Anglican School, the Bishop’s College Kingstown, the School for Children with Special Needs at Fernside and the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).
Principal at the Sion Hill Government School Verona Richards said someone called the school and said they were calling from BRAGSA.
She said someone later turned up and used the name “Kevin Browne” to gain access as a BRAGSA worker. No one by that name works at the BRAGSA, which has responsibility for maintaining schools and other government owned buildings.
Richards said the conman made off with a combined EC$760 from three staff members — EC$200, EC$60 and EC$500.
During this trickery, the man wore a grey t-shirt, a pair of short light-coloured jeans (off-white/ faintly green), and low cut sneakers.
The thief was light skinned with very circular nostrils, small eyes, had freckles below his eyes while his forehead was darker than his nose area.
The crook is said to have used different names at different institutions, among them, “Calvert Jones”.
The fluidity with which he struck has left some believing that it may have been a scheme carried out by more than one person.
A BRAGSA employee said at least two different descriptions have been given for the persons carrying out the deception.
As a result, the Ministry of Education has upgraded the protocols for workmen entering school compounds.
Workers will now be asked to present a valid photo ID to security personnel, while among other things, all appointments must be verified before workers are granted access to the school premises.