Last week I read in your newspaper that Dr. Atanacio Cob’s home was burglarized and household articles to the value of $5,520.00 stolen. I have also been a victim of burglary. My house in Belmopan was burglarized in the latter part of last year and household articles stolen. My loss was much more. It was approximately $15,000.00.
I have always wondered how this type of news gets into the papers. Is it the person who has been burglarized who sends a report to the newspaper? Is it the police who inform the paper? Is a report made on the basis of the magnitude of the value of the loss? If on the basis of the value of the loss, then I thought mine should have certainly hit the papers as it was much more than the burglaries of which I have been reading in recent weeks. I have decided to publicize my burglary because even if nothing is gained by the publicity, it should let us reflect on where we are in law enforcement.
The house was fully furnished but was unoccupied following the departure of its tenant. I do not live in Belmopan so was unaware of the burglary until sometime after it had happened. The neighbors saw the articles being taken away in “broad daylight,” but assumed that I knew what was happening.
As soon as I was aware of the theft I went to the Belmopan Police Station to make a report. Imagine my surprise when on entering the room where I was told to go into to give my statement, I saw one of the pieces of furniture, an antique settee. I immediately made it known that it was mine. I was then asked to accompany an officer to an outside shed to see if I would recognize any other pieces that belonged to me. Apparently, retrieved stolen articles were kept there. I did recognize two articles that belonged to me – the footstool that went with the living-room furniture and a mattress. At once I made it known that these things belonged to me.
The Police said that they had taken them away from someone who had been transporting household articles in circumstances that had raised their suspicions. They said the articles had been at the station for quite some time and as they had not received any report of a burglary where articles fitting their description were stolen, they were just sitting in the station, under the shed. As they had photographed them for exhibit purposes, I was told that after giving my statement I could take them away.
I did not come to the Station prepared to transport goods, so one week later when I was in an appropriate vehicle I returned to remove the articles. Imagine my surprise for the second time when the mattress could not be found. All the officers present at the time claimed they did not know who removed it. The mattress had just mysteriously disappeared! Up to now even though I have made sure that the officer in charge of the Belmopan Police Station knows of the disappearance, nothing has happened. He has not obtained any more information on the matter. He has said so to me.
When I wrote a formal letter complaining about the incident I personally took a copy to the Commissioner, who at the time was Commissioner Henderson. Now there is a new Commissioner. I don’t know if he knows of my letter to the previous Commissioner. I intend to contact him.
The very strange thing is that I was telling a friend about my experience and he told me that his house, which is located in Belmopan, was also burglarized. He went to the station to make a report and, like me, he was surprised to see some of the stolen articles. He claims he was asked by the police not to press charges against the person who had been found with the things because they had beaten the person and did not want him to report that fact!
I leave it to the readers to conclude what happened to my mattress. We can see the big task facing the administration to reestablish confidence in the Police Department. I am presently drafting my letter requesting compensation for the loss of my mattress.