Dead-end tips

EIGHT months after a partnership was inked between the State-owned Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) and Crime Stop Jamaica to offer cash in return for information leading to the arrest and charge of vandals, no pay-outs have been made despite tips received.

Under the partnership announced in April last year by Minister of Transport and Mining Audley Shaw, up to $100,000 would be awarded to tipsters as one way of solving the years-old problem of vandalism of buses which has caused injury to drivers and passengers alike, resulting in millions to repair broken windscreens and bus infrastructure. A JUTC bus costs, on average, $30 million.

On Monday, Cherise Bruce-Douglas, manager of the National Crime Prevention Fund, otherwise known as Crime Stop Jamaica, told the Jamaica Observer that “since we started the collaboration and partnership with JUTC, unfortunately we haven’t received any actionable tips”.

“We received tips, but they were not enough for us to send off for any actioning. I think one of the reasons for that is, there needs to be increased public awareness and maybe this article will assist us in doing so,” Bruce-Douglas admitted.

Actionable tips, Bruce-Douglas said, are those that will peg the who, the where, and when of incidents.

“Information such as this will more definitely than not lead to a suspect, or a person of interest, so we definitely need to know the who, the where, the when. Those are the details, as simple as it sounds,” the Crime Stop Jamaica manager noted, pointing out that these information gaps were reflected in tips about other crimes received by the agency.

“It happens with a lot of information, not just on JUTC buses. The information that we do get that are not actionable enough tend to not have those little details that we can action. Those are the pertinent bits of information that we need but, most importantly, the who because, of course, we need to do an investigation in order for it to lead to an arrest,” Bruce-Douglas pointed out.

In the meantime, she said Crime Stop is inviting the public to relay information on other criminal activities plaguing the bus company outside of stone-throwing.

“There needs to be increased public awareness and maybe this article will assist us in doing so. Increased public awareness on the partnership, letting people know that they can give information, not only on the bus vandalism; if they have any information on any of the employees that perhaps may be stealing petrol or parts from the buses, that is information we welcome as well. So, I think going into this new year we will need to increase public awareness by letting people know they can call Crime Stop to give such information,” she told the Observer.

The JUTC, on its website, said incidents of vandalism have caused massive dislocation resulting in buses being down for inordinate periods, as spare parts, which are not available in island, have to be sourced overseas, affecting the operations and the ability of the company to generate much-needed revenue.

The JUTC said between January 2018 and October 2021 there were 311 incidents of vandalism. In 2018 there were 99 incidents, followed by 2019 with 95 incidents. It said in 2020, there were 63 reports.

The JUTC said in November last year there were two stone-throwing incidents that resulted in injuries to passengers and damage to units.

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