The More Things Change . . . The Greater The Body Count!

A recent news item on DBS arrested my attention. It centered on a gentleman’s difficulty in obtaining a police report of a theft at his home. He had been waiting three months, the gentleman told a reporter, to no avail. On every occasion he had visited a particular police station, he was advised the officer he sought was “not there.” Almost three years ago we had a break-in at our store. Over fifty tyres were stolen. The police were called and a short time later they received information that led them to the perp. He still had several of the stolen tyres in his possession. He was charged and the tyres kept at the police station. At the time I was overseas. I was told the police planned to photograph the recovered items then return them to us. Three years later the exhibits were still at the Vieux Fort police station. Upon investigation we were informed there had been a break-in at the station and some of the tyres in their custody had gone missing. The police assured us they were looking into the matter.

To date we have had not a word, not a word, not a word about the promised investigation. Meanwhile, we learned from a well-placed source that the latest theft had been an inside job. Around Jan/Feb of this year I made several attempts at getting some useful answers from the police and to have released to me whatever tyres were still in their possession. I made an appointment with the head of the Vieux Fort station. I arrived at the appointed time only to be told he was, yes, “not there.” When I complained about the demonstrated lack of respect by the protectors of our lives and property—and refused to leave—I was directed to the second in command.

The owners of this business establishment in Vieux Fort had a hard time deciding who their friends were: the thieves who broke in and made away with their property or the tax-funded alleged protectors

The owners of this business establishment in Vieux Fort had a hard time deciding who their friends were: the thieves who broke in and made away with their property or the tax-funded alleged protectors

He acted surprised that the matter was still pending and that the tyres were still at the police station. The investigating officer was contacted. He claimed to be awaiting a hearing date. I was promised the tyres would be released after certain paper work had been completed “in a day or so.” One month went by and still the items had not been returned to us. My further efforts at contacting the investigating officer or his superiors amounted to zero. They were either “not there” or at a training session. (Obviously not sponsored by the U.S. State Department!)

A former classmate and current police officer whom I’d serendipitously hooked up with after my hundredth phone call to the Vieux Fort police station offered hope. He would conduct his own investigation on our behalf.

Several days later he informed me that not only had the case gone to court, the perp had also been ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. We had received no prior word of the case; it had been dealt with in our absence. The earlier referenced investigating officer had obviously either not been truthful or was as clueless when he told his superior he had been waiting for a hearing date.

The tyres were finally returned to our shop. On receipt of a related police report that we had to pay for, I presented it to a lawyer in pursuit of compensation for the tyres that had disappeared while in police custody. Alas, it turned out the six months statute of limitations had run out. Case closed at my expense. I felt victimized by not only burglars in and out of uniform but also by the justice system.

Is it any wonder our streets, schools and other institutions are full of inexplicably angry people? Is it any surprise so many citizens earlier considered right-thinking abruptly go off the rails, too often taking the law in their own hands in the worst way? We’re at the point where every disgusting far-fetched story we hear about our police is immediately believable. As they say, change the name of the victim and the story is ours: mutatis mutandis!

Such is my frustration at this point that I’ve quit hoping for improvement, regardless of the day’s government. Too many have been allowed to prosper by the shortcomings in our justice system. The popular perception is that many of our highest officials benefit from this sorry state of affairs—a perception promoted even by name-calling politicians in parliament!

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