JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Government has injected $7 million into the Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as it moves to intensify efforts to address agricultural theft.
  • Portfolio Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the money has been used to employ additional staff to bolster the work of the unit, which includes the services of two members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
  • The policemen, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Francis and Sergeant Damian Harry, will head the Ministry’s praedial larceny prevention operational activities and will mobilise members of the JCF across the island to curb praedial larceny.

The Government has injected $7 million into the Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as it moves to intensify efforts to address agricultural theft.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the money has been used to employ additional staff to bolster the work of the unit, which includes the services of two members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

The policemen, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Francis and Sergeant Damian Harry, will head the Ministry’s praedial larceny prevention operational activities and will mobilise members of the JCF across the island to curb praedial larceny.

“Having the JCF leading the anti-praedial larceny charge, we now expect an intensification of operations on the ground,” Mr. Kellier said, while emphasising that praedial larceny is a crime, and as such, should be dealt with by the police.

He was addressing journalists at a media conference, at his Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew on March 12.

Additional staff at the unit will include a Praedial Larceny Coordinator, to provide administrative and policy support; and an administrative assistant.

To further boost the work of the unit, LASCO Distributors Ltd. has also donated $4 million for the purchase of a Toyota Hilux motor vehicle.

It is estimated that some $5 billion is lost annually due to praedial larceny and farm theft, amounting to about $50 billion over the last decade.

“Against the background of annual output from the sector, valued at in excess of $100 billion, it is our projection that this figure could be significantly increased if the opportunity costs lost by deferred investment caused by praedial larceny were reduced,” Mr. Kellier said.

In the meantime, National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, pledged the support of the police in assisting the Agriculture Ministry and farmers across the island to tackle praedial larceny.

He said the scourge has, over the years, moved from petty theft to major organised crime and, as such, deserves the full attention of law enforcers.

“You are no longer dealing with a single individual; you are now dealing with heavily armed criminals, who come, not just to take a goat or a heifer or a bunch of bananas, but they come to clean out whatever is available on the farm,” he said.

Minister Bunting said he is therefore pleased to be a part of this initiative which, he believes, will put a major dent in agricultural theft across the island.

“I think this is an opportune initiative, one that not only serves the interests of the economy, but also serves the interests of social justice,” he stated.

For his part, Commissioner of Police, Dr. Carl Williams, said the JCF is well aware of the scope of praedial larceny in Jamaica, and so, will be “going all out” to curb the problem.

He noted that Deputy Superintendent Francis and Sergeant Harry will have full command over all the resources of the Community Safety and Security Branch, which has also been mobilised in the larger anti-praedial larceny campaign.

The Commissioner said the officers will also be able to utilise the intelligence assets of the JCF, which until now, had not been dedicated to tackle praedial larceny.

“We are also going to be dedicating our investigative assets, that is, the detectives from the Criminal Investigation Branch, who hitherto, had not been focusing on this problem,” Dr. Williams informed.

He said the JCF will also utilise modern technology, such as DNA testing, to fight praedial larceny.