PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Leader of the United People’s Party and President of Parliament in St. Maarten, the honorable Rolando Brison says UP fraction will initiate a Penal Code amendment to raise the penalty to five (5) years in Prison and Naf.50k fine for persons convicted of car theft.
According to MP Brison, this is one way to curb the spate of vehicle thefts occurring on the island in recent months.
In a press release issued Wednesday, MP Brison said the Government of St. Maarten must take urgent measures to curb the rapid rise in car thefts on St. Maarten. “This includes paying attention to those streets that are still not yet lit or that were lit but destroyed by hurricane winds,” he said.
“Crime in general, and especially this type of crime can have an especially damaging impact on our already fragile economy,” said MP Brison. It must be clear that whether you are an individual stealing cars or someone purchasing the parts after these vehicles are stripped, you are also at risk. “The trauma that is caused to the victims of car theft adds to the mental struggles of our citizens who already undergo the scariest experience in their lives of fighting to live in the era of COVID-19.
According to reports from within the community, car theft is becoming a weekly affair. It is not only privately owned vehicles that are being targeted but also, trucks and rented vehicles.
MP Brison said he would be asking the Minister of Justice to table car thefts as a “priority point” for investigation. The belief amongst some community members is that there are two or three groups responsible for the most recent carjacking’s. Car Rental Company Owners and owners of other businesses have complained about thefts of vehicles. Some have suggested that bandits may be targeting their cars for export to islands where they can get top dollar.
“Rather than condemning our police, our collective goal should be to work with them and strengthen their resources and give them the tools both in terms of laws and otherwise that will help them to better serve and protect our citizens and their properties,” said MP Brison.
Several vehicle owners took to Facebook to offer rewards for information, and others have conducted massive island searches for their vehicles. Sadly, Brison said not all cars stolen are recovered.
“We must recognize that St. Maarten cannot become known as a place where it is unsafe to drive a rented vehicle or purchase a vehicle and park it outside your gates for fear that it would be stolen.” MP Brison warned that if we become known for car theft, it will destroy our Tourism product and worsen our already fragile economy.”
According to MP Brison, the additional concern is the violence that can occur during a vehicle robbery. “Owners of vehicles are probably asking the question, “what rights do I have and how far can I go to protect my property?
“It cannot be easy to wake up one morning to find a vehicle that you use for business or personal use has been stolen.
He said that the business community and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau must come together to find ways to create awareness without raising alarms. At the same time, we must ensure that the police presence on the island increases as well.
To have single parents not being able to take their children to school after they were out of school for so long and to have the sense of safety taken away from our residents and visitors is in itself a crime against humanity.
Referring to the suggested five years for offenders Brison said, “While we are adamant that the incarceration period should be long, we want to ensure that there are active rehabilitation programs for these individuals so that they do not return to society and remain a burden on our people and economy,”