Though Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said crime on Abaco is down nearly 40 percent, some residents insist the statistics do not reflect the problems Abaconians are facing and that Rolle is “out of touch”.
One resident told The Nassau Guardian that they stopped reporting to the police because of an alleged lack of response or an inability to reach them.
Louise Reckley, owner of Lovely’s Delight takeaway on Abaco, and her husband have been living in a room in the building that houses her business after their home was destroyed in Hurricane Dorian.
Though they are trying to rebuild their house, she said just a few days ago some building supplies were taken from her yard.
“Someone came in the yard,” she said.
“Our home was destroyed, so we’re building from the ground up. Someone donated some ice and water shield to us. And we had it there covered, waiting for someone to come and move it for us.
“…And they came while we were in the house. And these guys travel with guns. That’s the scary part. So, we were right here when they came and they carried 17 of them. Another family member, they bought their roof in. It’s a metal roof, so they had all the supplies for it. They left and when they came back the whole thing was gone.”
Reckley said she did not report the crime after having issues in the past with getting through to the police.
“I didn’t even try,” she admitted.
“I had tried the number several times before. So, I didn’t even try to call them. When we got up and saw that the stuff was missing, we said, ‘Okay, it’s gone’.
“Someone came and carried it and it doesn’t even make sense reporting it.”
She added, “You call the police and they don’t show up.
“Then sometimes you call the number they have and they don’t answer. So, it really is a scary situation here in Abaco. And we don’t have proper electricity, because sometimes it’s on and sometimes it’s off.”
Reckley said the situation is even more frightening for her because her husband was disabled by a stroke he suffered last year just before Dorian.
“I don’t have anyone to defend me,” she said.
Last week, Chamber of Commerce Director Krista Albury told The Nassau Guardian that crime remains one of the biggest challenges facing Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. She said reconstruction efforts have been hindered by the theft of building supplies.
Following that story, Rolle released crime statistics to The Nassau Guardian which showed a 39 percent reduction in crime on Abaco in 2020, compared to 2019.
While the statistics demonstrated a 39 percent increase in housebreaking incidents – with 23 in 2019 and 32 in 2020 – the statistics indicated reductions in a number of other areas.
According to the 2019 and 2020 statistics Rolle provided, there was a 75 percent decrease in armed robberies, with four in 2019 and one in 2020. There was also a 67 percent decrease in burglary; a 47 percent decrease in shop breaking; a 50 percent decrease in stealing from vehicles; and a 33 percent decrease in stolen vehicles.
Rolle lamented what he described as a focus on a “fake rise in crime” on the island.
His comments were met with ire among those on the ground in the Abacos, with some saying the top brass in the force and the Ministry of National Security are “out of touch”.
Kevin Sawyer said his marine and fishing supply business, Island Boy Tackle and Marine, was broken into four times since Dorian, three of the incidents having taken place in 2020.
“For whatever reason, the government is out of touch,” he said.
He added, “People here are very, very discouraged.”
Sawyer said that while the business and its contents, for the most part, survived Dorian, the repeated break-ins have now delayed his reopening.
He said he’s now at a point where he has to find funding to get his business going again.
Sawyer said the incidents were reported to police, but little has come of those reports.
“I’m not trying to be critical of the police officers, but you don’t ever really hear anything back,” he said.
“We were actually planning to reopen last Monday, and that’s how we came to find out that we had been broken into over the weekend. We went there getting ready to start straightening up and have an electrician come to supply power with a small generator to the store. We were going to start getting back into business.
“Well, I ended up moving pretty much all of my inventory that I had left because I just couldn’t [leave it] until I can figure out how to secure everything better.”
Sawyer added, “It’s very, very discouraging. In the community where we live, crime has been rampant. They’re stealing numerous outboard motors. And these aren’t small motors – they’re up to 300 horsepower a piece.
“They went in my yard and stole the lower unit off my 175 outboard, pretty much a brand new outboard.
“If you don’t chain down anything you’ve got, it will be gone.
“Everywhere in Abaco you go, every day, you hear someone stole someone’s generator last night, or someone broke into somebody’s house. Someone went into the church building and stole this or that.
“People are just frustrated here. Second homeowners are frustrated. They bring supplies in and get them to their site and their contractor starts to work and goes there the next morning, and stuff has been stolen.”
He continued, “There are a lot of people here who don’t have the money, once they buy the materials, to buy it again.”
Sawyer said something must be done.
“The sad part and truthful part is when you have Minister [of National Security] Marvin Dames and the commissioner of police make the statements that they do, they’re really out of touch,” he said.
“Come here on Abaco and meet with the people.”