The Santa Cruz police are lamenting that constant gridlock in the St Elizabeth town’s streets is hampering their efforts to maintain law and order, as it facilitates an easy escape for hoodlums on motorcycles fleeing crime scenes.
Santa Cruz and other St Elizabeth towns, including Junction, have been hit with a series of robberies over the past year in which armed thugs have held up several Western Union outlets and cambios, relieving operators of million of dollars in cash.
“We have too much traffic to deal with in Santa Cruz and that becomes a serious delay, even for us as officers, when these robberies take place, and the culprits’ means of escape are motorcycles,” one officer told The Gleaner. “There is very little we can do.”
The latest robbery to rock the town took place abut 9:30 a.m. last Monday along Main Street. The crooks managed to elude the police easily with more than $8 million in cash and a .38 pistol, which was taken from a security officer on duty.
“This latest robbery is one of those where the police team which responded to the call was gravely affected by the major early-morning traffic congestion which had built up within the township,” the cop said. “These robbers are using motorcycle as their getaway vehicle whenever they commit a robbery, and this allows them to easily elude the police, who, on most occasions, will find themselves trapped within the major traffic build-up due to the service vehicles being unable to flow through the major congestion.”
He added that a recent bypass built to ease traffic congestion on Main Street was devastated by heavy rains last year, resulting in traffic being diverted back into the township.
Business operators in Santa Cruz have also concluded that the traffic situation presents the perfect conditions for criminals to target them, with little fear of being repelled by cops.
“I personally witnessed the robbers who carried out the robbery on Monday,” one operator told The Gleaner, “and from my point of view, those men knew exactly what they were doing. They knew when to strike, and more so, they knew how to use the hundreds of motor vehicles on Main Street as a cover for their escape.
“We as business operators have now become prime targets for armed robbers … . At times, there are only few motorcycle cops and two bicycle cops, and they are not enough to [handle] the massive flow of traffic,” the businessman stated.
He further pointed out that in his more than 15 years operating from his location, he is aware of dozens of robberies in which the criminals made use of the gridlock to escape.
Last September, armed men also held up a Western Union outlet along Main Street in Santa Cruz, bagging millions in cash before escaping through heavy traffic.