There have been ongoing burglaries and break-ins in Cascade, a middle class suburb, north of the capital city, Port of Spain, in Trinidad and Tobago. Despite the best efforts of residents to protect themselves from intruders, and the responsiveness of the police, robberies continue unabated in what would otherwise be an idyllic residential area that though close to the city is very green and almost rural in feel. Residents along with police officers, who engage in smart and accurate policing, can alleviate the problem but the two parties must work together.
Since my family and I moved to Cascade in the early 1980’s, burglaries have been a problem and this has continued to date. My parents’ home was burglarized more than once in the late eighties and early 1990’s. On one occasion, the burglar, a young man, entered their room while my parents were sleeping and stole money and jewelry; my mother awoke, saw a shadow and thought that my then teenage brother had come into their room for something. Fortunately, they were never harmed, but on another occasion, their lives were threatened.
More recently, my brother, John, and his family were robbed three times in two years. On the last occasion in March, 2014, despite their alarm being activated five times, the private security company that they contracted, called their home phone, on a work day, and not my brother or sister-in-law’s mobile phones. Consequently, they lost $8,000 US worth of valuables along with their sense of security and peace of mind. Below is an advertisement for the company whose response to the break-in prove ineffective.
In a previous incident, the burglars tied up his 80 year old mother-in-law and their gardener and placed pillowcases over their heads. Subsequently, the police came to investigate, dusted for fingerprints and forgot the evidence bag at the scene. My brother and sister-in-law were angry and frustrated and my nephew, ten years old at the time, traumatized.
An article in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian dated December 14, 2014, ‘Cascade Under Siege’, describes how residents of two areas in Cascade, Knightsbridge and Idlewild, are living on edge and in fear because of the occurrence of weekly robberies.
Disturbingly some robberies have included violence, with victims hogtied and beaten. Residents in a 2012 article, Cascade residents prisoners in their homes, claim that many of the burglars come through the tracks from the lower socioeconomic squatting communities along Lady Young Road and hot spots in Belmont.
As a resident, I can attest to the fact that there is a spike in robberies from October to March yearly due to the Christmas and Carnival seasons, not just in Cascade, but throughout the country. An article in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian online two years previously, which treats with the failure of police patrols to abate the crime wave in Cascade, was also published in December. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s published (TTPS) statistics on burglaries and break-ins and detection are evidence of the low detection rate nationally. From January to July 2014 the highest number of reported burglaries and break-ins was in July, 206, and the lowest in May, 160.
The highest detection rate was in January, 28 of 206, which is 13.59%, and the lowest in July, 12 ,which is 5.47%. Is there any wonder with these low detection rates that the crime wave in Cascade goes unchecked?
Residents continue to do all in their power to protect their families and property. Every home is burglar proofed, but it is very stressful to live life behind wrought iron burglar proofing, which though designed to protect inhabitants, can also entrap them in an emergency, such as a fire. Most homeowners also own guard dogs: Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Pit bulls and Labradors and many have installed security systems too. In addition, most communities have established citizen crime watches in their neighborhoods. Locals take all these measures at great continuing expense to themselves. Burglaries and Break-ins in Cascade Power Point. Nonetheless, burglaries and break-ins is a global problem as is evident from the many tweets on Twitter from all over the US.
The prevalence of new media, has enabled citizens to improve communication with a view to alerting one another whenever an incident occurs. Group email is used to provide details of any new robberies, so that everyone is kept abreast of the different modus operandi employed by the burglars, so that they know what to expect. There is also a WhatsApp group started by the Second Avenue Residents Association, that alerts others of any strange cars or people in the neighborhood, as well as a dedicated Facebook page for community announcements for the residents of St. Ann’s Cascade and Mt. Hololo. However, the latter is not very up-to-date with incidents of burglaries and crime in the area.
According to the December 2014 article, Member of Parliament (MP) for Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West, Patricia McIntosh, has been meeting with residents and the police to find solutions to the problem. At a meeting with two deputy commissioners and police officers, police promised to intensify their vigilance in the area. Several victims attest to the responsiveness of the officers of the Belmont Police Station, nonetheless they generally reach the scene when the perpetrators have already fled.
Residents protecting their homes and properties and using new media to keep themselves and their neighbors informed about incidents of burglaries, and police taking the time to meet with residents and respond to their calls are commendable. However, residents need to put aside their fears and identify suspects, and the police must engage in smart policing and apprehend the culprits. Far too many crimes go unsolved, so burglars and criminals wreak havoc with impunity. Together, the residents and police can curb the spate of robberies.
As a producer of original content it is my duty to provide readers with the truth, be accountable and accept responsibility for anything that I write, and endeavor to do no harm. In order to fulfil my duty, I incorporated ethical writing principles by drawing upon my experiences and those of my family and neighbors, all corroborated by articles from the online version of a local reputable daily newspaper, the Trinidad Guardian. I also used statistics published by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to support my argument that detection rates for burglaries and break-ins are low nationwide, not just in Cascade where I live. The emails that I used are circulated to residents of Cascade and can be authenticated.
I think that because I have written about a topic that has directly affected and continues to affect my family and me, demonstrates my reliability since I have not written based on hearsay but firsthand experience. However, I did not rely just on our experiences; I also incorporated the experiences of others in the neighborhood through the hyperlinks to related articles. The Trinidad Guardian has been in existence since 1917, so it brings with it almost a century of news reporting and publication, so the articles from the online version of the newspaper would certainly lend credibility to my article. The police statistics also lends balance because it provides some insight into the police’s performance based on their records.
Achong, Derek. (2012, May 1). Cascade residents prisoners in their homes. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2012-04-30/cascade-residents-prisoners-homes
Achong, Derek. (2012, December 29). Police patrols fail to stop crime wave in Cascade district. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2012-12-29/police-patrols-fail-stop-crime-wave-cascade-district
Hassanali, Shaliza. (2014, December 14). Cascade Under Siege. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2014-12-14/cascade-under-siege
Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. (2014). Police Service Serious Crimes Statistics. Retrieved on January 23, 2015 from http://www.ttps.gov.tt/Statistics.aspx
Map of Cascade. Retrieved from http://www.thecarltonsavannah.com/Pages/ContactUs.aspx
Picture of MP McIntosh. Retrieved from
Picture of Cascade. Retrieved from http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g147389-d1174322-Reviews-Knightsbridge_Haven-Port_of_Spain_Trinidad_Trinidad_and_Tobago.html