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Prevention of theft Part 2


This is the article that was intended for last week to follow up on the Agriculture Produce and Livestock (the Prevention of Theft) Act, No. 49 of 2007. Another article was inadvertently printed. My apology is tendered. The Act is expected to save the agricultural produce and livestock industries from destruction. We noted that the Act provides for the registration of sellers. Thus the legitimate sellers would be identified as an exclusive group apart from the thieves.{{more}} The seller is expected to pay a fee at the time of registration and this would entitle him/her to a certificate which must be renewed every five years.

Receipt/ Certificate of purchase

The sale transaction must be marked with a receipt which must include the date of sale, the type and quantity of the produce if the seller is not a supermarket or grocery, and the price paid for the items. The seller must produce the receipt in duplicate and keep a copy. If challenged by a constable, a buyer must produce the receipt. The constable must indicate in writing the time when the receipt was shown and must place his signature on it.

Transportation of Agricultural Produce and Livestock

The items transported must be clearly distinguished if they belong to different persons. A person driving a vehicle or other means of conveyance must provide the necessary information if challenged by a constable. If he or she is not able to do so, that person commits an offence and would on summary conviction be liable to a fine of five hundred dollars or imprisonment of three months or both.

Powers of a Constable

A constable, according to the Act, is a member of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, and includes a rural constable appointed under the Police Act. .A constable has the powers to stop and search any vehicle without a warrant if he suspects that it is carrying agricultural produce or livestock that were obtained unlawfully. Where a person has a collection of items in a stall or any other place a constable could also search without a warrant. The person in control must have a certificate of purchase or a receipt of purchase and be able to show how the items came into his possession. The person who is stopped must be able to show ownership by producing the requisite receipt. If he is working for someone else or he is the agent for the owner of the items, he must be able to the satisfaction of the constable show the same.

If the person does not have proof of having obtained the items legally, then he could be arrested and the items and the vehicle seized.

Treatment of the Suspect

The constable would as soon as possible take the arrested person before a magistrate to be tried. If he or she is found guilty of being in possession of agriculture produce or livestock that were stolen, then he would be liable to a fine of ten thousand dollars or imprisonment of two years or to both fine and imprisonment. The section does not give any discretion to the magistrate as to amount of the fine but allows him or her to decide on a fine and/or a prison sentence.

Refusal to corporate

Where the suspect refuses to stop or escapes from the constable or gets rid of items, the constable could apply to a Magistrate for a warrant to apprehend him/her and to seize the vehicle or means of conveyance used for transporting the items illegally obtained.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
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