As a result, he has called for the establishment of a multi-sectoral task force to tackle the problem.
Speaking at the Ministry of Agriculture’s panel discussion on Establishing a Vision for the Future of Agriculture in Barbados recently, Brathwaite explained that the task force would bring together law enforcement, ministry officials, the judiciary, information systems and security systems to stamp out the scourge.
“Praedial larceny has been reduced in other places. In St. Vincent, for example, there is a rural police force that moves around and watches. Anytime the thieves know that nobody is looking, stealing will continue. You have to have a system that monitors by a combination of electronic surveillance [and] harsher penalties for stealing people’s produce.
“You can’t have people stealing and then when they are caught, you give them a little slap on the wrist and tell them don’t do it again. That is not appropriate. They are thieves. If we can track the drugs and we can track the stealers of gold and the stealers of copper and we can control other types of crime, how come we can’t control praedial larceny?” he queried.
There is currently legislation, namely the Praedial Larceny Prevention Act Cap 142A, which addresses the issue. However, the chairman lamented that the problem came with enforcing it.
He further stated that praedial larceny could no longer be treated as a petty crime.
“It can be resolved; it has been resolved elsewhere. Otherwise, the thieves will continue to enjoy themselves and we can’t have that. I see this as a very serious issue and one that the country should take very seriously. People who steal farmers’ produce should be punished,” Brathwaite emphasised.