St. John’s Antigua- Amid a surge in praedial larceny, one livestock farmer who has suffered heavy losses is alleging that there is a strong foreign element to this problem.
Former West Indies cricketer Dave Joseph, who raises sheep and goats in the Lower Lyons area of Diamond Estate, says theft of his animals has cost him tens of thousands of dollars over the years.
Joseph says in some cases his losses have been greatly multiplied, because the stolen livestock included very expensive breeding varieties he imported from Canada and elsewhere.
Joseph warns that local farmers cannot continue to take such big hits from the thieves, who have been making off with calves and other young livestock.
He notes that this imperils continuity of production, since the next generation of animals are being stolen before they reproduce.
He echoed warnings about the dangers of such meat being distributed to unwary consumers, pointing to an example in which some of his stolen animals had just been treated with potent drugs that require at least three weeks for the toxicity to subside.
Joseph says there is no telling how much harm such stolen meat has already done to people who eat it.
But above all he’s disappointed with what he considers to be the sluggish responses and overall inaction by local police to reports of praedial larceny.
Joseph said after discovering several of his goats stolen about 9 pm one night, he telephoned the nearest police station, but officers did not show up until three days later.
He believes the police should be making more headway in apprehending those responsible, since it is known that areas such as where he is located are among the main ones targeted.
Joseph feels that by now police ought to have organized patrols, ambushes and sting operations that would have led to thieves being caught in the act or with the loot.
He says he has evidence that a lot of the stolen animals are being slaughtered and their meat smuggled out of the country to neighbouring islands such as Guadeloupe and St Maarten.
Joseph says on one occasion when several of his animals had been stolen, his own inquiries led to a Dominican man being identified as the culprit.
Joseph claims the suspect admitted that he and three French nationals had been stealing livestock and sending the meat to Guadeloupe.
But he said for some strange reason the man and his alleged accomplices are still at large in the country.