BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 21, 2016–Whereas much has been said about the high rates of violent crimes, not much has been said about the rate of property crimes in Belize—crimes which, in fact, make up nearly 90% of major crimes reported to police. However, there are rare cases in which property crimes turn deadly, as was the case some weeks ago, when a mentally challenged man launched an assault on a family in Yo Creek Village.
The mid-year comparative crime statistics released by Belize police indicate that property crimes in Orange Walk, which make up more than 90% of major crimes in that district, have increased four-fold: from 23 cases reported in January to June 2016 to 98 cases reported from January to June 2016. These include 49 cases of theft, 35 cases of burglary and 14 cases of robbery.
One of the most recent cases happened on Friday, June 24, 2016, when police reported what they described as a case of aggravated burglary in Yo Creek, Orange Walk, in which, it was alleged, that Larry Banner, a mentally challenged man, had chopped six people.
Danny Choc, 13, died from injuries he sustained in the incident, so police said that Banner, who was arraigned in Orange Walk for maim and burglary, would also be charged for murder.
Orange Walk mayor, Kevin Bernard, told Amandala that he has not observed an increase in major crimes in that municipality; and indications are that rural crimes are on an uptick.
Amandala shared the Orange Walk data with Assistant Superintendent of Police Selvin Tillett, who told us that most of the property crimes are actually perpetrated by family members upon their loved ones. Tillett said that the property crimes are often committed by relatives who are “alcoholics” or “crack heads.”
Furthermore, he told us that many times, although police pursue the cases relatives tend to withdraw charges.
“We need more cooperation from the public,” said Blackett, who is concerned that the property crimes could also spill over to the wider community.
He told us that they do have a working partnership with the National Drug Abuse Council, to address the problem of substance abuse, which is a major factor behind the uptick in property crimes.
Of note is that Orange Walk is the only district where the murder count did not increase during the first half of 2016. The increase in the incidences of violent crimes was most notable in Toledo, although the per capita murder rate in that district was the third lowest in the country for the first half of 2016.
Notably, the Belize District remains the district where a resident is the most likely to be a victim of a major crime, at 1 in 200. On the other end of the spectrum is Corozal, where we estimate that the chance of a resident there becoming a victim of a major crime is 1 in 1,400.
These estimates are based on the official crime statistics and also on population estimates published by the Statistical Institute of Belize.