Stolen vehicles and criminal activities

Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan - File photo by Angelo Marcelle
Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan - File photo by Angelo Marcelle


IF I WERE to take a wild guess at the amount of criminal activities that involve the use vehicles, I would think it is over 75 per cent. The other criminal activities involve snatch and run, crimes of opportunity, breaking and entering, etc.

The men (usually) involved in their nefarious activities oftentimes have long in advance calculated the probability of being apprehended; many have weighed the pros and cons. One can overhear the many such discussions at barbershops, beauty parlours, wakes, funerals and other places where the commoners tend to gather.

There is also a strong correlation between stolen vehicles and criminal activities. Many vehicles are stolen simply “to put down a wuk.” If they are not recovered, then they are scrapped; or the plates are again changed and they are used as “PH taxis” in some spots.

Over the years citizens have been clamouring for solutions to deal with this issue. Even longer has been the promise of successive governments to “fix the Licensing Office.” For years we have all been hearing about governments’ decision to standardise vehicles licence plates. Trinidad and Tobago remains one of the few places where anyone can order a pair of licence plates while enjoying a beer at the same establishment.

Why this simple matter has yet to be resolved remains some type of high-powered mystery; much like the cocaine and guns which enter the country. Fellas with intent on engaging in illegal activities usually have a pair of licence plates in their possession when they go to steal a vehicle. With the plates quickly changed, putting out an APB (all-points bulletin) on the original plates is a complete waste of time.

If the brain surgeons at Licensing, working in conjunction with the line minister, were able to figure out a way to have the State produce the licence plates, like they did with their polymer bills, and like most of the rest of the world does, the days of what I call the "rumshop plates” would come to an end. Any plates that do not have, say, the coat of arms stamped in colour in the middle would be recognised by any and everyone.

This is not to say that the change of plates alone would resolve the problem. But it certainly would reduce it. A criminal intent on engaging in illegal activities would simply remove the plate from another vehicle and magnetically attach it to the existing plate of the newly stolen vehicle.

Neither is this to say such a problem cannot be resolved. A few brain cells, some clear thinking with a specific objective can alleviate 99 per cent of the current challenges where criminals order licence plates and literally get away with murder. I am not in the habit of making recommendations to the Government as friends and family of the administration become multimillionaires using other people’s ideas. But it can be done.

Trinidad and Tobago would be a lot safer if only the criminals didn’t have such easy access to mobility. I have long determined that this place remains a criminal’s haven. Fixing here requires much more than a catchphrase or slogan, like Fixing T&T. Fixing here requires allegiances and commitment to the red, white and black; not just to the red, to the yellow, or to the green.

It also requires some testicular fortitude, which involves cleaning house in the police service the prisons, the regiment, the coast guard, and several other organisations. Parliament and the Senate most notably included.

For too long one side relishes in the failure of the other. So while the Opposition questions the Minister of Education in the House of Representatives over a shooting that took place near a school, it’s not done out of concern for the children or the victim. They do so to merely score points. Everything is one big game, where scoring points is more important than resolving issues. It’s done on both sides.

Until and unless such nonsense is totally eradicated, Trinidad and Tobago would forever be in a situation of the tail wagging the dog.


"Stolen vehicles and criminal activities"

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