DPP recommends harsher penalties for repeat simple larceny offenders

September 4, 2011 | By | Filed Under News 

 

 

Continuous appearances of repeat simple larceny offenders before the Court have left many to wonder if the maximum penalty in Guyana of 18 months imprisonment for the offence is too minimal.
The crime is a very prevalent one and every day the courts are inundated with offenders, most of whom had already been previously convicted.
And if one leading legal practitioner has her way, the penalty would be doubled.
Many users of the National Park, Georgetown, during the afternoons fall prey to ‘trunkers’, as they park their vehicles inside the facility and along Thomas Lands.
One would assume that someone committing an offence would be afraid of being reprimanded by the police, especially after previously experiencing the overcrowded Camp Street jail. However, this is not the case.
A young woman whose vehicle was broken into and personal items stolen, on last Monday at around 17:20 hrs, revealed the brazen behaviour of her alleged perpetrators, who the police described as well known ‘trunkers’.
The woman revealed that she and a friend were jogging in the National Park when her car alarm went off. Upon investigating, she noticed a man carrying a black bag, moving away from her vehicle and boarded a white and green minibus that drove off instantly.
The woman immediately went to see if indeed her car was broken into and discovered that the triangular glass of the vehicle’s back window was shattered and her bag was missing.
Her friend called 911 and informed the operator of the incident, described the bus transporting the alleged perpetrators and the course the bus was taking. However, the 911 operator advised that they contact either Kitty Police Station or Alberttown Police Station.
To obtain the licenced number of the vehicle and ascertain if the passengers of the bus were the suspected perpetrators, the two friends began tailing the bus. The young woman revealed that they drove around town for some time and then the bus turned into Woolford Avenue and stopped.
The driver stepped out of the bus and began approaching her vehicle. Sensing danger she drove away but was able to get the bus’ licence number which is BKK 8558 and a closer look at one of the two men.

A trunker breaking into a car

That was not the end of the ordeal. The bus began following her. What happened next surprised her. She recounted that within the proximity of Guyana Defence Force (GDF) headquarters, the bus overtook her car and blocked its path.
Her intuition was confirmed, as the guy who had moved off from the car and entered the bus earlier, was standing next to her vehicle, holding her bag. The man asked for the window to be to lowered so that he could return the bag. She related that her friend told the man to drop the bag and leave. This was done and the bag was retrieved with several items missing from inside.
The woman went to the Alberttown Police Station and related the details and it was discovered that the suspect is an infamous ‘trunker’.
The woman noted that she was informed that the ‘trunker’ has been  engaging in this unlawful act for years and although he has been frequently imprisoned for similar offences, he continues as if nothing happened.
Sometimes, the suspect commits these offences while on bail for similar offences.
According to, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, several files concerning similar incidents occurring in the National Park were brought to her attention.
She noted that ‘trunking’ (which is a form of simple larceny) is organized crime, because it is organized by a group of people.
Simple larceny is the felonious taking and carrying away of personal goods of another, unattended by violence.
Under the Summary Jurisdiction Offences, Amendment Act 10, 1998, Section 66 (C), the penalty for simple larceny is either paying a fine of $25,000 to $50,000, and/or 18 months imprisonment.
Some persons believe that if the penalty was stringent enough persons would not want to face the penalty too often. However, some offenders, particularly ‘trunkers’ prefer to pay the fine, as some items stolen from vehicles (such as laptops, cellular phones and music systems) far exceed the amount.
Repeat offenders are taking advantage of the law, since each and every case is judged on its own merit, it does not matter how many times a person appears before the court for the same offence or different offences.
Ali-Hack noted that if a person is on bail and commits a similar offence, the prosecutor could raise it before the court and request the magistrate to deny the alleged perpetrator bail.
However, in terms of the inadequacy of the penalty for simple larceny, the DPP is of the view that the maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment should be increased to three years imprisonment for second and subsequent offenders.
There should be a limit as to how often these offenders are brought before the courts. Continuous appearances before the Court for simple larceny show that the perpetrator has the propensity to be unlawful.
Perhaps it is time Guyana to amend the Laws concerning criminal offences to implement the Three Strikes rule similar to what obtains certain states of the United States of America.
The Three Strikes rule imposes mandatory minimum sentences for individuals who have been convicted of three felonies that were committed on three separate occasions.
The ideology behind the Three Strikes rule is that individuals who commit more than two felonies are chronically criminal and therefore pose a threat to society. The rule is viewed as beneficial to society, as the repeat offenders are incarcerated for lengthy prison terms of given life sentences.
It has been said that the implementation of the Three Strikes rule in Guyana will only be possible with the construction of another jail, since the Camp Street Jail is already overcrowded.
It was emphasized that repeat offenders must not be allowed to roam freely committing simple larceny while victims continue to lose their valuables.

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