New low in Barbados crime

Anglican Bishop, Dr John Holder.
Photo by George Alleyne

December has presented Barbados with unusual incidents in what residents see a year of crime increases, with robbers attacking the clergy, and in another instance, carting away 26 televisions from the national cricket stadium.

These two strange twists in robberies — where bandits showed no respect for men of the cloth in a country known for its religious fervor, and burglarized Kensington Oval, a place held dear to cricket-crazy Barbadians — seemed a symbolic end of a year in which residents cried out about an increase in crime, while authorities maintained that theft has been decreasing over the years.

Bishop of the Anglican Church of Barbados, Dr. John Holder, Wednesday severely criticized the new low attained by thieves who had robbed the minister in charge of the Sharon Moravian Church, and that place of worship’s organist, just as they pulled into the driveway of the institution in St. Thomas.

Expressing an overall worry of religious bodies about any form of theft, Dr. Holder said, “for us in the church, it’s a great concern when people enter churches and take property. It is not simply a matter of stealing, it is a matter of losing respect for sacred places.

“In traditional Barbados a church was almost immune from those types of activities, and when this happens it seems to happen at a fairly regular pace. It is saying that we have in this society persons who have lost respect for that understanding of the church as a sacred space, which goes across religions.”

While Barbadians share Bishop Holder’s lament of the displayed contempt for places of worship and persons who lead in such religious practices, residents are also enduring a sense of indignation that the place Bajans regard as the Caribbean ‘Mecca’ of cricket has been invaded and robbed.

Two of the island’s three daily newspapers on Thursday carried reports of a Kensington Oval security officer being remanded to prison for, apparently collaborating with others, and fetching away 26 of the famed cricket venue’s flat screen TV’s, an essential prop of modern cricket providing action-replays for patrons.

Remanding the suspected TV thief, Linus Joel Cumberbatch, to detention until Jan. 25, Magistrate Douglas Fredrick, pointed out that the accused man is believed to have taken, “not one, two , three or four,” of these appliances, but, “up to 26 televisions… [with] still 16 more to be recovered.

“A fella carrying 26 televisions from one place… it gives argument to an enterprise taking place.”

Magistrate Douglas’ suggestion of this theft being ‘enterprise,’ or organized criminal activity, comes against a backdrop of Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith, and his political boss, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, taking a long-term view of crime on the island.

While providing no figures, both men have said that the crime situation is better than it was before.

According to Brathwaite, a look over the past five years would show that crime is not spiraling out of control.

In September, acting Commissioner Griffith boasted that Barbados is the safest it has been in 15 years.

“We are actually better off statistically today than 10 years ago,” he said in a statement that challenged the perception of Barbadians, and continued, “in fact, for the last 15 years, crime in Barbados was always annually in excess of 8,00 crimes. For the last two years, crime has been less than 8,000, and this year it’s also on track to be less.”

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