…Assistant Commissioner relieved of personal jewellery worth $400,000
(By Mondale Smith)
Less than six months after being replaced as Crime-Chief, Assistant Commissioner of Police Leslie James and his family were made to endure several minutes of terror when gun tooting bandits stormed his home early yesterday morning, making off with almost $400,000 in jewellery.
The ordeal that has left his two children traumatized, took place just about 3:00hrs yesterday at James’ lot 453 Hendy Street, Block X, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara home, and lasted for 12 minutes. The jewellery were taken from the former Crime Chief and his wife Jacqueline James, the Retail Sales Manager for Guyoil.
The attack will add to the perception that criminal elements are operating with impunity, despite the utterances by senior officials of the Guyana Police Force that security is being beefed up for the festive season.
The former Head of the Criminal Investigations Department told Kaieteur News that his family retired to bed in the top flat just around midnight on Saturday.
At about 3:00hrs yesterday he heard a noise in the bottom flat of his house and along with his wife, he decided to investigate.
“When we came out the bedroom, I saw about three men coming up the step. Clearly, one had a weapon and I immediately looked down and told them take what they want and they can go.”
One of the men said “take their jewels”, which included James’ wedding ring and another ring as well as his wife’s engagement ring and wedding band.
“I didn’t look at them because I didn’t know if they had my family. I made sure that they did not see me trying to determine their identity for fear of myself and family being harmed.”
The men took the jewellery and they attempted to exit the house but the door was locked so they had to resort to shattering a window on the south western side of the house to make good their escape.
According to James, the men gained entry to his house by prying open a window in the bottom flat.
As the men were exiting, the Crime Chief daughter’s screams for help alerted neighbours and the men ran west along the road.
One neighbour who was heading home at the time said he was threatened by four men with guns who were making their getaway on foot.
James who is on Annual Vacation Leave said, “The safety for me and family was paramount. I hadn’t a clear assessment of how many were in the home so I didn’t react to anger the men.”
He however said that his neighbours have ideas of who the perpetrators might be.
James said his weapon was in his home but he opted to remain calm and urged his family to do likewise.
“Clearly they didn’t come to harm anyone because there was no talk of shooting anyone while they were in my house, so to me, it was clearly a robbery.”
The men also took a stereo system valued at about $140,000 but that system was dropped on the roadside.
A neighbour who identified himself as ‘Trini’ said he heard one of the robbers telling another robber, “bannaz is the Crime Chief house we just been in!”
According to the neighbour, that statement apparently resulted in the bandit who was carrying the music system, dropping it and running southwards.
“I grabbed a cutlass and run out when I heard the (former) Crime Chief daughter screaming but the men see me and one ah dem seh ‘leh we shoot he’, and I run inside. Then they went to ‘Strong Man’s’ (another neighbor) house and chase he back in he house. Then they run up the road to the blacka.”
Trini reiterated that the streets in Sophia need more lights. “This place full of thieves who does walk in twos and threes.”
Two Police patrols were summoned and the area was searched. James said he communicated his ordeal to Commander of C Division Assistant Commissioner Marlon Chapman as well as his successor Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum and got the fullest cooperation and support.
On CRIME as a former Crime Chief
The former Crime Chief also took the opportunity to weigh in on the current crime situation. James said that any increase in crime, even if it is one percent, is a cause for concern.
“I’m not sure if it was a random storming of my home, except to say that I’m a consummate professional who always execute my duties with professionalism.”
James noted too that the area is normally patrolled by police but “as with everything else, there is always need for improvements in security.”
The community recently formed a Community Development Council- James is one of the Executive members.
His opinion is that there appears to be significant amount of idle time among the youth population and according to him “from how some crimes are committed, they clearly have no respect for anyone.”
James who served as Crime Chief from April 8, 2014 to June 30, 2015, is advising the general citizenry that “should you experience any storming of home by criminal elements, it is always better to cooperate, as your life is more important than any material thing.”
“I’m concerned to know that despite my status as former Crime Chief that my home was stormed and I was robbed… so what of the ordinary person in communities? I commend the current initiatives in train, which I support, to address the crime situation and I commend the current initiatives for the Christmas policing strategies.”
He also expressed confidence that once what is on paper is put into effect, it should yield results.
Jail Time is waste time
James further stated that parents, guardians, community leaders and social workers need to be part of efforts to bring the youth into the understanding that crime is not the only way to a better life.
He also made a pitch in support of former Parliamentarian and attorney at Law James Bond’s 007 promotion initiative, stating that the promotion is a profound one because youths need to understand that jail time is waste time.
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