Aug. 2, 2001 – If residents, visitors and vacation homeowners of "Love City" get their way, there'll be a swift dose of tough-love dealt to the burglars stealing their valuables.
St. John police and public officials acknowledge there has been a rash of complaints in recent months from citizens concerned about their safety — and also about the economic repercussions of vacation home crime.
According to a press release from the Legislature, Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd telephoned Police Commissioner Franz Christian on Wednesday and asked him to "step in and address the wave of burglaries plaguing St. John within the past four months." Liburd was responding to numerous complaints "primarily in the areas of Great Cruz Bay, Chocolate Hole and Rendezvous Bay, where many vacation homes are located," the release stated.
"We need to address this matter quickly," Liburd said, and "find some solution to it." He called on the Police Department "to pay special attention to this growing problem as soon as humanly possible."
Liburd, who resides on St. John and as the at-large senator is the island's de facto representative, pointed out that "many in the community are concerned about the impact of this lawless behavior not only on the public safety, but also on the economy of St. John. This situation is already tense, and we need to bring relief for our residents and visitors alike."
Liburd aide Aubrey E. Bridgewater Jr. told the Source on Thursday afternoon that this week alone, through 11 a.m. Thursday, the Senate president's office had received "at least 20 faxes from owners of vacation homes and people who came to rent." They want to know "why the police haven't put a stop to this," Bridgewater said. "They are asking if we are going to wait until somebody gets hurt."
According to Bridgewater, it is not the first time he has seen such an upsurge of residential break-ins on St. John. "We have to put a stop to it, because St. John is too small for this nonsense," he said.
Bridgewater said he spoke with Lt. Joseph Gumbs, a St. John watch commander, on Tuesday, and Gumbs told him that 14 officers are needed per shift "to adequately patrol the streets, protect life and property, and conduct special assignments."
Lt. Rene Garcia, St. John police commander, told the Source that "14 or 15 officers are needed on each squad, with some additional vehicles." He said that during July police received reports of 27 burglaries, two attempted burglaries and seven grand larcenies on the island. "Twenty-one of them were homes," he said, and the items reported missing included "VCR's, home electronics and jewelry."
Garcia and Bridgewater declined, citing security concerns, to say how many officers currently are assigned to St. John, either permanently or on a temporary basis because of the recent increase in criminal activity.
Garcia asked that anyone witnessing suspicious behavior on St. John or having knowledge of stolen property can call him at 693-8880.


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