By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
SOME Abaco residents trying to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Dorian’s destruction say their worries are compounded by continued incidents of looting and theft.
These safety concerns have become so much of an issue that one resident threatened to “shoot anyone dead” that attempted to enter her property.
Others fear that the problem is festering and will only worsen if authorities there on the ground don’t double down on measures to protect people from thieves.
“Abaco don’t got no law right now,” the woman, who did not want to be named, told The Tribune from her porch in Marsh Harbour.
“I tell ya one thing, me and everyone else around here is armed and I’m sure if someone tries to come in here I’ll shoot them dead. I’ll shoot anyone dead.”
She claimed residents were wary of depending on police or marines to get a handle on the problem, adding there had been a lack of concern.
The Tribune canvassed Abaco yesterday where residents said while the focus should solely be on restarting lives, they worry about being victims of ill-willed people.
While on the island, armed forces seemed to have been more concentrated at ports of entry like the dock as opposed to in communities where almost every abandoned car had an open gas tank and doors to the few standing uninhabited homes were flung open.
“They are allowing the boys from the south to be stealing stuff,” the Abaco resident claimed. “They coming into Marsh Harbour and stealing everything they can put their hands on. It’s the Bahamian boys stealing the stuff.
“Some people saying it’s the Haitians. The Haitians will go in and they do certain things, but the local Abaco boys from the south they come in and they stealing engines, trailers and all that kind of stuff. What for?”
This is a situation that could potentially get worse, according to Colin Bethel, another Abaco resident. Looting forced him to send his family away in the immediate days following Hurricane Dorian. His wife and two children have since returned. He fears crime will pick up once more residents return to live in planned tent cities.
He told this newspaper: “My wife and kids left after about three or four days because of all the looting that was going on and it seemed that nothing was being done about it.
“They had started to infiltrate into people’s homes and stuff and so I didn’t feel like we were safe so we evacuated and I stayed just to protect my premises as best I could.
“They have returned now because we felt it was safer.”
Mr Bethel said he raised the issue with National Security Minister Marvin Dames in a small meeting on Monday, but got no satisfaction in the minister’s response.
“It’s a bit of a concern and I asked the minister this yesterday (Monday) and he kinda didn’t give me clarity on it, but what is going to happen when they set up the different villages that we are going to need to set up for workers?
“That crime is going to start back up. How are they going to protect this because if they can’t, nobody is going to come back or I’ll have to send my family away again.
“I can’t have them here (and) unsafe so that’s one of the major concerns.”
He added: “I think the safety may be short lived and that was my question to the minister yesterday, how are we going to control this? Just last week certain people moved back so how are they going to control it? I really didn’t get clarity on that.”
Others like Michael Dilon had differing views.
He said looting on a large scale had ended, but it gave way to thefts of opportunity.
He claimed Abaco had been targeted by some people from New Providence.
“Looting on a large scale here is over,” the seven-year Abaco resident told The Tribune. “There is still some opportunity thefts here. They just caught a few thieves here the other day. They flew in from Nassau and came into here to rob money from a home that they knew was there. These guys are not from here. They are opportunist thieves.
“That’s what they’re doing here, seizing the opportunity to steal something that doesn’t belong to them. That’s where the concern is. The amount of people here right now, it is minimal. As these numbers start to increase the policing needs to be more diligent and it needs to be more protective and the police need to be looking out for us.”
Crime concerns aside, both Mr Bethel and Mr Dilon said they are looking forward to rebuilding the storm-torn island, although it will take years to do so.
Calls were placed to both Mr Dames and Royal Bahamas Police Force Commissioner Anthony Ferguson but they were not returned yesterday up to press time.