In August, we lamented in this space the epidemic of gun violence impacting our country and called on parents not to ignore the bad behaviors of their children.
Hope, early this year, that the downward trend in homicides would continue throughout 2019 was already diminishing by then. Nothing happening on the anti-crime scene today provides solace for a country already burdened with the fallout from Hurricane Dorian.
Our reporter, Rachel Knowles, this past Monday set out the staggering statistics on armed robberies on New Providence – 60 armed robberies between September 1 and November 15.
In September, there were 16 incidents; this almost doubled to 30 in October and by November 15, there had been another 14 robberies.
Then on Tuesday, this paper carried reports of a police patrol being shot at from a high-powered weapon. In a separate incident a gas station was held up by an unmasked robber.
No one is exempt.
Persons are being robbed in the daylight and at night; while walking along a street or sitting in a parked car; when leaving their place of employment, a restaurant or a church service or while resting in their homes.
Robberies are taking place in inner city neighborhoods, in middle- and upscale-income neighborhoods, at public parks, at automatic banking tellers and at service stations.
Assurances from the commissioner of police that ordinary citizens need not be “overly concerned”, that these incidents are “little bumps and little challenges” and nothing that the police “cannot handle”, stopped ringing true a long time ago.
They give no comfort and provide no confidence to the victims of crime or to their wide circle of family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
And then we see, read and hear reports on television, in newspapers and on radio recounting that while hundreds have volunteered their services and donated in-kind and in cash to lighten the suffering of so many impacted by the ravages of Hurricane Dorian in Abaco, others have used the distraction of the storm to advance their criminal enterprises.
Sadly, the peaceful culture that typified pre-Dorian Abaco was shattered, not only by devastating winds and waters that left so much of the island unrecognizable, but by heretofore unknown looting of businesses and homes immediately following the storm, notwithstanding the presence of regional security officers there to support Bahamian law enforcement.
The widespread presence of international and local aid agencies in the early days and weeks following the storm also meant that the provision of emergency healthcare assistance, regular meals and water removed any justification for the continuation of looting or indeed scavenging of what might be called essentials.
Excuses offered for the unlawful removal of food stuff and drink from damaged homes and businesses in the aftermath of the storm never applied to the theft of boats, boat engines, building supplies, refrigerators, air condition units, all manner of appliances and electronics, jewelry and cash. At least one thief was so bold as to leave a note enumerating what had been taken from a business house and expressing appreciation for the “donations”.
Reports of house breaking continue, leaving many afraid to leave their homes but for short periods of time.
Assurances that the problem is being handled with the increased presence of police and defense force officers assigned to Abaco and its cays have proven to be overly optimistic. Just yesterday three generators were reported stolen from the storage of a local company in Marsh Harbour.
These thefts have little to do with genuine needs created by the hurricane. The culprits are not youngsters. In many instances they are parents sending all the wrong messages by their behaviors.
This persistent defiance of law is an expression of social decline.
Clearly too many of our people are disaffected and feel no loyalty to the society in which they live. Our schools have failed them. Many, unemployed, have found no comfort in or guidance from the usual social interactions with church, civic or political organizations.
We are not alone in calling for increased focus on the ills impacting our communities.