Out-of-court settlements by farmers after people steal their produce are frustrating Praedial Larceny Unit investigators who feel that the effort they put into apprehending suspects goes to waste.
In addition, well-informed sources disclosed that some of the same suspects continue to steal from farmers.
“The farmers don’t want court action because they feel hearing the matter would take too long,” an individual familiar with the matter told St. Lucia Times anonymously.
The disclosure came amid reports of an upsurge in cattle and goat theft this year.
In one case, charges are pending concerning the theft of twenty goats.
The Praedial Larceny Unit has also been investigating reports of the slaughter of stolen horses in Vieux Fort, with the meat being sent to neighbouring Martinique for sale.
The Unit, established in 2008 as a pilot project, initially focused on Mabouya, Roseau and Cul de Sac Valleys.
But it branched out later to cover Babonneau, Choiseul, Micoud, Vieux Fort, and the entire Island.
The Unit wants people to stop providing a market for stolen goods by buying from ‘undesirables’ suspected of stealing the items.
In addition, the Unit has urged farmers to make its work easier by, among other things, establishing farmer watch groups and installing CCTV cameras.
Because CCTV cameras recently captured the theft of chickens and eggs from a poultry farm at Augier, Vieux Fort, a Praedial Larceny Unit officer arrested a suspect.
The Unit has also been holding Town Hall meetings and lectures at health centres and schools to inform farmers and solicit their feedback in the battle against praedial larceny.
Headline photo: May 2023 screen grab from social media video of alleged cow thief forced to lead animal back from where it was taken.