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Yachties concerned about break-ins

Yachties concerned about break-ins

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For 2015, there have been up to 10 reported cases of yacht break-ins in the Grenadine island Canouan.

This is according to a Caribbean Safety and Security Net (CCSN) summary of 2015 Canouan Reports of Crime against Yachts, published on September 14.{{more}}

The organisation says, despite the report, their cries for help from local law enforcement authorities in resolving the situation, have fallen on deaf ears.

According to CCSN’s website, the primary mission is the collection and dissemination of accurate information relating to crimes against yachts in the Caribbean, enabling cruisers to make intelligent decisions about how and where they cruise.

The report, which can be found online at https://www.safetyandsecuritynet.com/, states that most of these incidents have taken place in Charlestown Bay, Canouan and the L’Ance Guyac, situated north of Charlestown Bay.

On March 6, there was a reported theft of $400 from an unsecured boat anchored near the Tamarind Beach Hotel. The report states that the boat was locked, but a window was left open. An intruder entered overnight through the said window, “rummaged thru” a money clip and purse and took $400 cash while the crew slept. The matter was reported to the police.

In another incident, on April 1, personal computers and binoculars were stolen from a boat docked close to the same hotel. The incident is said to have occurred while the crew was asleep. However, no report was ever made on that matter.

According to the report, there was an instance of a reported theft of a cellular phone on April 24 and another incident on May 30, in which a floatation jacket and clothing were stolen. No report to the police was made in the latter case.

Between June 1 and July 10, the summary listed four attempted thefts, but none of these matters were reported to authorities.

The latest incident is said to have occurred on September 8, while boat owners were having dinner at the Tamarind Beach Hotel. Items of food and beverage are said to have been stolen from a refrigerator. That matter was reported.

According to the CCSN’s Kim White, letters were sent to Commissioner of Police Michael Charles and to the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP), with regard to the situation, but according to White, they are still awaiting a response.

Documents obtained by SEARCHLIGHT show that on July 20 2015, the CSSN emailed Charles, and copied a variety of other local officials, including the Ministry of National Security, SVG Maritime Affairs, NCCP, and the SVG Office of Tourism outlining the problem, requesting assistance and asking for specific instructions about what victims should do in the case of a boarding/theft.

White said no response was received.

A follow-up of the same email was resent on August 3 to the same officials, stating: “It is disappointing not to have received a response to this important request for information and help. I would greatly appreciate a prompt return communication about when I should expect to receive a reply,” the email read.

The CCSN is also claiming that the only response received was from the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP) on August 6, where they asked the NCCP to ensure all the other parties were informed and a response generated. Despite a response from the NCCP, no response was received from the other parties.

On August 25, the CCSN wrote to the Editor of the Caribbean Compass, Sally Erdle asking for guidance and assistance. Erdle, in response, sent an email to various governmental bodies in SVG with regard to the situation, but again, their email went unanswered.

“I’m copying this to all of you yet again in sincere hopes that a serious situation regarding ongoing yacht boardings in Canouan will receive some attention before the new tourism season begins.

“A record number of yachts have been boarded and burgled while visiting Canouan so far this year, and still it appears that no effective action is being taken to protect our yachting industry…,” Erdle’s email read.

CCSN also wrote to Godfrey Pompey, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security on September 7, for which they say they have not yet received a response.

When contacted on Wednesday, Commissioner of Police Michael Charles says he is aware of the situation and will respond to the emails in time.

Charles confirmed that measures have been put in place to combat the problem.

“In fact, I have been in receipt of some emails of yacht break-ins in Canouan, but I have not had a chance to deal with that yet because I am dealing with something really urgent,” the commissioner said, reiterating that he will respond in time.

“Every email I get, I respond to them,” Charles assured.

According to the top cop, every matter of a yacht break-in that is reported is dealt with. However, he pointed out that these matters are not easily dealt with.

“As you may be aware, unless somebody actually sees the person, it is difficult to pin that person. If somebody is caught with an iPod or something, then we can go from there and investigate,” Charles said.

The Commissioner said while there is a coastguard base in Canouan, he noted that they can’t be everywhere at the same time.

He said it may appear to some yachties that the police are not acting expeditiously in dealing with such matters, but that is not the case.

“Coastguard don’t really do investigations of crime per se, but they assist really… Not that we are making excuses, but some of these things are difficult to tackle,” he pointed out.

The Commissioner said he is cognisant that this country, especially the Grenadines is heavily dependent on tourism and assured that they are doing their best to quell the situation.

“We are definitely putting things in place. We are not ignoring this,” he added.

That coastguard base, which was opened on June 2014 and constructed at a cost of US$2 million was built to assist with the protection of what local officials term the “soft underbelly” of the nation’s security.

At the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had said the base fits strategically within the country’s coastal surveillance plan, and offers a measure of security for investors on the southern Grenadine isle.

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