Citizens face terror during home invasions

CHARLES KONG-SOO

Home invasion perpetrators that have become frequent over the past few months are using increasingly violent and brutal tactics against citizens in several communities across the country. This struck fear into many victims as people became vulnerable in their homes.

These criminals are well armed and use any type of weapon, from firearms to cutlasses, to kill, beat, torture, assault or maim their victims before stealing money, jewelry, electronic devices, household items or any form of valuables on the victim’s property before making a hasty exit.

In some cases, criminals show no mercy for women, children or even the elderly.

The trauma of being attacked and beaten and, in some cases, being left for dead can mentally haunt victims for a long time. Others, meanwhile, find the strength to face the test and ensure that they are prepared should another such attack occur.

A St Clair homeowner who was the victim of a violent home invasion a few months ago and survived the harrowing ordeal has recounted his experience and that of his family at the hands of marauding bandits.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the landlord said: “Imagine being woken up at night by intruders in your home, being ambushed as you are about to enter your home, tied up and beaten in your house while your house is ransacked, and see your family being tied up and beaten before your eyes.

A home invader caught on camera using his cell phone to communicate with his underworld coordinator/controller while committing a home invasion/robbery.

A home invader caught on camera using his cell phone to communicate with his underworld coordinator/controller while committing a home invasion/robbery.

“Home invasion crimes are on the increase. Home invasion crimes differ in that victims will experience physical harm and severe long-term traumatic stress requiring professional psychological counseling, although, many victims do not never fully recover. In addition to the victims, the direct family, loved ones and friends will also suffer from the long-term psychological effects of the trauma.”

He said traditionally home invasions were the domain of uniquely skilled burglars who could pick locks or exploit weaknesses in a home’s physical security and, upon entry, steal items and then seek to escape. rapidly.

But now, he says, the bandits are getting more direct and brazen in their attacks.

The criminals, he said, come to your premises and enter your property either by brute force or by ambushing the victims as they leave their vehicles and enter their premises.

He revealed that it was now the norm for criminals to inflict physical violence on victims for several hours and more often during the day.

In Westmoorings on February 23, 2022, at around 8 a.m. three gunmen jumped the wall of the property and attempted to enter the house.

Two of the bandits were shot by one of the occupants of the house with his licensed firearm.

Sadly, during the exchange of gunfire, one of the people living in the compound, businesswoman Nicole Moses, was shot and killed as she tried to get her family to safety.

In an incident unrelated to a home invasion a few months later, a police officer attached to the Port-of-Spain forensic department and his elderly mother were robbed by two bandits, one armed with a a firearm, August 21, 2022.

And days before this incident, a 29-year-old woman was tied up and robbed from her home in Princes Town by two bandits armed with a cutlass and a hammer on August 9, 2022.

A car scissor jack used to open a house's burglar protection during a home invasion/theft.

A car scissor jack used to open a house’s burglar protection during a home invasion/theft.

Correlation between burglaries and stolen cars

The St Clair owner, who is also a businessman and computer technician, argued there was a link between home invasions and organized car theft rings. The owner said the pattern of these crimes was always the same with bandits using stolen cars with fake license plates.

He explained that the stolen car would remain parked on the roadway with the getaway driver waiting in the car while the other gang members entered the property to rob and beat the victims.

The man noted that the vehicles of choice were usually relatively new passenger car models such as Hyundai, Kia or Toyota.

He said that contrary to popular belief, these criminals do not go to neighborhoods with low-end Nissan Tiida cars because of the stigma associated with such cars which would arouse suspicion. According to him, newer car models attract less attention.

The owner of St Clair, who has an in-depth knowledge of electronic systems in vehicles, said most modern cars cannot be easily broken into and “wired” because many of them use RFID chip keys (Radio Frequency Identification).

Car theft network based in the center and north

Dirk Barnes, security analyst and CEO of 868 Tactical Limited, a retired major in the T&T Defense Force (TTDF), also shared a similar view on the link between home invasions and car thefts.

Barnes, whose company recovers stolen cars and provides security assets for homes and businesses, said there was not just one auto theft ring, but several different organizations with different goals.

He revealed that there was a network of car thieves based in the Center and North region extending in Bamboo to Couva.

Barnes explained that this particular organization specializes in boosting or stealing mostly smaller vehicles, and modifying or cloning them.

He further explained that if a vehicle was stolen or written off, the car theft gang would steal the same model of vehicle and change the chassis number to that of the stolen or written off vehicle that was registered for criminal use.

The same gang of car thieves, he said, will also attempt to steal vehicles now leaving different links and ports and most Roll on Roll Off (RORO) vehicles are stolen in this way.

Other smaller organizations will steal vehicles for other crimes, he said. They ranged from high-end vehicles to very cheap vehicles to appear low-key depending on the neighborhood they were going to “drop wuk” in.

Barnes said a criminal organization carrying out home invasions might have one or two people in the group who could be charged with the responsibility of securing stolen cars for future jobs.

He revealed that when a car is stolen it is taken to one location to ‘cool down’ for 24-36 hours and then it is taken to another location with the license plate changed and waiting to be used for a future robbery.

Sergeant Christopher Swamber of the T&T Police Service’s Stolen Vehicle Squad (TTPS) promised to contact the Sunday Guardian but did not respond until late yesterday. CoP McDonald Jacob did not respond to Sunday Guardian WhatsApp messages sent over a week ago about a possible link to home invasions and car thefts.

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