The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) has issued an alert to residents regarding the purchase of stolen items, in light of an ongoing surge in commercial and residential burglaries on Tortola.

The public is urged to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity, especially when items are being sold at prices significantly below market value.

The RVIPF reports that burglars have been targeting cash, electronics, gaming devices, power tools, weed whackers, and other valuables that can be sold for profit. As part of their efforts to curb this crime wave, the police have been conducting targeted patrols in the most affected areas, leading to several arrests and charges.

Detective Chief Inspector Kenrick Davis, Head of the Criminal Investigation Department, highlighted the importance of public awareness in tackling these crimes. “We encourage persons to report to the police if there is suspicion that the items being offered for sale were stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained,” he stated.

The RVIPF has also observed worrying trends related to these burglaries. One notable practice involves criminals using rented cars, often left with keys inside near seaports such as Trellis Bay, Road Town Jetty, West End Jetty, and St. Thomas Bay on Virgin Gorda. These vehicles are used to commit crimes and then returned to the parking lots, with legitimate users unaware of their involvement.

Additionally, there has been an increase in the theft of license plates on Tortola, which criminals use to evade detection during their activities. Some stolen plates are used on getaway vehicles with mismatched numbers, further complicating police investigations.

Detective Davis advises residents to reconsider leaving keys in vehicles and to adopt more secure practices to prevent their cars from being used in criminal activities. “These emerging trends signal the need for residents to adjust their routines and practices to reduce the chance of becoming victims,” he emphasized.

The RVIPF also recommended several crime prevention measures to reduce the risk of burglaries which include:

  1. Install CCTV Cameras: Monitor activities around your premises and deter potential burglars.
  2. Utilize Alarm Systems and Adequate Lighting: Motion lights and well-lit exteriors can discourage intruders.
  3. Securely Lock Doors and Windows: Ensure all entry points are locked, especially when away.
  4. Maintain Locking Mechanisms: Regularly check and repair any faulty locks on windows and doors.
  5. Avoid Leaving Spare Keys Outside: Common hiding spots like mats and flowerpots can easily be discovered by burglars.
  6. Consider Outward-Opening Doors: These doors present more difficulty for burglars.
  7. Photograph Valuables: Keep a detailed inventory with serial numbers and identifying marks.
  8. Establish a Neighborhood Watch: Utilize platforms like WhatsApp for community vigilance and quick reporting of suspicious activities.