For Arianne St Louis, a 24-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent from the town of Diego Martin in Trinidad & Tobago, crime was something that happened to other people. That was until thieves targeted her grandmother’s house.
Recent statistics indicate that Trinidad’s crime rate has been steadily increasing since 2003. However, despite the daily tragedies I read about in the newspapers, no-one I am acquainted with had ever been violently attacked.
I deduced that crime sprees are confined to a certain section of society, with a few unlucky casualties who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I never felt unsafe in my daily coming or goings. That was until thieves robbed my grandmother while I was at home, at 2:15pm on June 2nd.
My 84-year-old grandmother, Cecelia Harris, and I just returned from the RBTT bank and pharmacy in Starlite Shopping Plaza, Diego Martin. I dropped her off in front of our house and drove to the end of our street to turn the vehicle around and park.
I immediately noticed two young men walking slowly down the road. I made eye contact with them and continued on my way. I closed the gate and went into our home to pack away the goods. My granny was sitting in our gallery reading a TTARP [Trinidad & Tobago Association of Retired Persons] magazine when a young African male wearing a blue button down shirt and long dark wash jeans approached our home, ascended the stairs and peered into the unlocked burglar-proof gate and asked “Mickey living here?”
As she responded, the young man entered the gallery and snatched her handbag off of her shoulder. Mrs Harris screamed ‘Murder’ repeatedly while struggling to hold onto her purse. “At one point he raised up his shirt as if to show me he had a gun, but I did not care, I was not letting go of my bag.”
They tussled for two minutes, and then the thief jumped over our gated fence and fled. The contents of my grandmother’s black leather handbag included a wallet with her ID card, a Nokia cell phone, house keys and T$8,500 in cash.
While my grandmother was being robbed, I was in the backroom of the house. I heard indistinguishable shrill noises but I was unsure where and who they were coming from. By the time I ran to the front of the house it was too late. The two thieves were almost out of sight so I ran back inside to call the police. According to eye witnesses the two suspects fled on foot and were later seen getting into a green B-14 vehicle on FarFan Street.
Three police officers from the West End Police Station responded within 15 minutes to take a report. The following day a detective visited the home and dusted for finger prints. He said there were four similar incidents that occurred in St. James last month and thieves have also been targeting elderly people at First Citizens Bank on the Diego Martin Main Road. He said “they [the police] are trying to get a hold on the situation.”
Although we do not live in the most upscale neighbourhood in the west, it certainly is not the worst! Our home was built in the 1960s and my grandmother has lived here for 50 plus years. As far as we know this is the first time something like this has happened in our neighbourhood.
We were both shocked and very uneasy, although we changed the locks we could not sleep properly for about a week. I know my granny kept herself locked indoors for about two days without even going outside to water her beloved plants.
She told me she talked to her friends on the phone for most of the day about what had happened and that it was ‘therapeutic’ for her. I am definitely more aware, almost a little paranoid about people and my surroundings.
I realize that my neighborhood is not the same place I grew up in. I love my country but I am very saddened at our crime rate and the casual manner in which crimes are committed.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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