JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit (PLPU) is reporting that over 50 persons have been arrested and prosecuted since its establishment three months ago.
  • Sergeant of Police attached to the Unit, Damion Harry, said that since the launch of the PLPU there have been some major successes in praedial larceny prevention and other related matters.
  • The work of the PLPU falls within the ambit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, but its operations are executed under the direct responsibility of the officer in charge of all geographical division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

The Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit (PLPU) is reporting that over 50 persons have been arrested and prosecuted since its establishment three months ago.

Addressing a JIS ‘Think Tank’ recently, Sergeant of Police attached to the Unit, Damion Harry, said that since the launch of the PLPU there have been some major successes in praedial larceny prevention and other related matters.

The work of the PLPU falls within the ambit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, but its operations are executed under the direct responsibility of the officer in charge of all geographical division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

According to Sergeant Harry, praedial larceny is organized crime and the criminal elements are always trying to be one step ahead, so the police have to ensure that they are 10 steps ahead of the criminals.

“Our operations are intelligence led. We have to be aware of what exists, how persons go about engaging in these criminal activities and what are their strategies,” he said.

Although Sergeant Harry is happy for the successes, he lamented that the fines for committing these reprehensible acts are not acting as a deterrent; therefore he is advocating for the fines to be significantly increased.

He explained that a stolen cow may be sold for between $80,000 and $150,000, therefore five heads are worth over $500,000.

The maximum fine under the Praedial Larceny Act is $20,000. This, he said, is grossly inadequate, based on the magnitude of the offence and the threat that praedial larceny poses to national development.

“Even though persons are caught, arrested and taken before the courts,  the perpetrator will still have a large sum on money in his position, so the fine is not acting as deterrent, so we are lobbying for harsher penalties,” Sergeant Harry emphasised.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Harry explained that in the principle of law, not all farm thefts are praedial larceny.  Paredial Larceny, he said, refers to the breaking, uprooting or picking of produce in a growing state.

“So, while we use the term loosely, not all farm thefts are praedial larceny. There is the possession of agricultural produce without a receipt; larceny of cattle, the killing of an animal with intent to steal, unlawful possession of property and simple larceny,” he noted.

Sergeant Harry is recommending legislative amendments to the Predial Larceny Prevention Act to incorporate all the terms relating to farm theft.

Based on statistics, St. Thomas has the lowest cases of praedial larceny.  This, Sergeant Harry attributes to the use of the agricultural produce receipt book among farmers within the parish. Meanwhile, the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon and St. Elizabeth have the highest number of praedial larceny cases.

Therefore, the Sergeant is appealing to farmers to comply with the law.

“We stand ready to assist farmers, but if we are going to enforce the law, farmers must be prepared to comply with the law by ensuring that they are registered and also to purchase receipt books from the Jamaica Agricultural Society,” he urged.

The receipt book is one of the tools used to provide traceability for farm produce and also to provide each farmer with a unique identification number.