February 22, 2012

Dear Editor,

I am writing this to bring awareness of the frustrations people are having with the Police Department. My home was burglarized in December 2011, in Vista Del Mar, Ladyville. I have been following up with the police officers regularly to get updates on the investigation and, most importantly, the police report, which I desperately need. Among the items stolen was a Dell desktop that I had gotten from Courts Belize Limited.

I have gone so far as appearing on the news to appeal to the public in hopes of making people aware that purchasing "hot items" encourages stealing. I thought this would help in the recovery of the items that were stolen, since I described them on a television and radio interview.

Below is a letter that was sent to Mr. Elodio Aragon, Jr., to get his assistance in dealing with this matter. I was told go visit his office on Monday, February 20, but as I mentioned over and over to the police, with the nature of my job, I am not always working in the city. The letter details all the occurrences since the burglary.

January 8, 2012

Mr. Elodio Aragon, Jr.
Police Department
Belize City
Dear Mr. Aragon,

We spoke on the phone on Friday January 6, 2012, concerning the burglary that occurred on Manta Ray Boulevard on December 12, 2011. I am writing to you to give an account of what has happened since the burglary occurred. I cannot be in Belize City to speak to you in person at this point in time, as I am an auditor, and have an audit to do out-district.

On December 12, 2011, upon returning home around 7 p.m., I noticed that my home at #37 Manta Ray Boulevard had been burglarized. I immediately dialed 911, the emergency number, to which there was no response; the phone just rang. I called the Ladyville Police station shortly after, and was told by the person on duty at the time, that they are currently immobile, and I would have to wait for the vehicle to return from Hattieville later that night. If it was not for the assistance of my landlady, Mrs. Karina Villanueva, the police would not have reached at all. She picked them up from the station and brought them over. The officers who reported to the scene of the crime were not equipped to do fingerprinting; thus I had to wait, with the house remaining unsecured throughout the night, as burglar bars were pried open.

I gave a police report on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 in the morning, and the fingerprinting and processing of the crime scene was done around 1 p.m. that day. I had given PC Lyons at the Ladyville Police Station a description of the items stolen from my residence.

The items of significant value were a Dell Inspiron Desktop (CPU -orange in front and black) with a flat screen monitor, a Silver Olympus Stylus Digital camera, with15 mega pixels and 5 times zoom, and a Playstation 2 slim, black in color along with an analog and wireless controllers.

I had even made an appeal on the radio and television for people to be on the lookout for these items. By the time personnel who processed the scene had gotten to my house, I had already done my investigation and gave them the name of the person who broke into my house.

On Wednesday of that week, I had someone go to the Racoon Street Police Station to apply for a copy of the police report so I can take it to Courts to give them proof of what had happened to the desk top computer. I could not go the police station myself on that day, because I was at the time doing an audit of the University of Belize.

The culprit was captured a week later, in a house where stolen items were stashed. Reports I had gotten from area residents who knew of my plight indicated that my stuff was located in the house where he was found. I immediately went to the Ladyville Police Station to verify if the guy was caught and that my items were found.

They had confirmed that he was caught, but they did not want to tell me what items they had found. I visited the police station in Ladyville regularly thereafter to find out if there was any break in the case. I had spoken to an officer whom I only knew as Sutherland, who had informed me that the stuff was taken in a boat to Caye Caulker shortly after they were stolen from my residence.

He said that he would investigate where the items went, through the Caye Caulker Police Department. I continued doing follow up calls and visits daily, after work, but nothing had changed.

In the matter of the police report, I had checked with the Racoon Street Police Station on Christmas Eve to find out if the report was complete. I was informed that it had not left the Ladyville Police Station. I decided to check back on New Year's Eve, in hopes that it was complete. I checked with the Ladyville Police Station and was then informed that the report had not been requested by Racoon Street.

The Sergeant in charge at the time, took down my number and information from the receipt I got after paying for the police report, and told me he would give me a call to indicate when the report was completed, to avoid me going back and forth between the two stations. Up to this day, I have not received a single phone call from the officers investigating the case or from the Sergeant who said he would give me a call.

At this point in time I am very frustrated, as the police report is a vital document that I need to take to Courts. I believe I am just being given the runaround. I have taken so much time off to deal with the Police Department regarding the burglary; I believe that if I should take off more, it might jeopardize my job.

This past week, on Wednesday January 3, 2012, I paid a visit to the Ladyville Police Station to get an update on the case. I was informed that the officer who took over the case, PC Allen, would be in on the following day from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. I visited the Ladyville Police Station on Thursday, January 4, 2012, around 6 p.m., the day that PC Allen would be in, and was informed that he came off duty around 4 p.m.

I am seriously wondering now if my stuff was actually found, and being withheld, or now belonged to one of these officers working at the Ladyville Police Station. I cannot get a straight answer on anything I ask. I believe that since I reported the incident and the police officers not only have my number but know what was stolen, they should have contacted me, instead of me hearing information from the people of the neighborhood. If I did not hear it from a neighbor that the guy was caught, would I have been contacted?

Honestly, this whole ordeal seems very shady, and something does not feel right. I should have been shown a listing of the items found on the premises where the guy was caught. The officers are saying they found washing machines and DVD players, but neighbors are saying otherwise. They have even made comments that if I am not careful, some of these same officers of the law would, in fact, take possession of the items as if it were theirs.

Anther comment I heard was that if I do not pay the officers something, they would not put much effort into the investigation. From countless people I spoke to in the area, they have lost faith in the Police Department, and I believe that I fall on that list too. If the items stolen from my residence now belong to members of the police force, then something is seriously wrong there. In such a disturbing scenario, the ones who we trust in to protect us from criminals, themselves are criminals, and nothing more than thieves and liars.

Respectfully yours, Wayne Herrera

To date, I am still unable to get the police report. Imagine this crime happened all the way in December 2011, and going for 3 months after I cannot get a police report. Now I am being called by Courts, to make payment for something I no longer own, thanks to the police department; this appears to be the norm.

I got the understanding that there was a hold up at the Belmopan Police Department with the processing of the police report. I have been following up with the Ladyville Police, every week. I am currently working in Belmopan, so I decided to pay a visit to the Belmopan Police Station, and inquire what was the delay.

To my surprise, I found out that some information was lacking from the police report, and there was no update as to suspects or the fact that the young man was captured. I had requested court action against this individual, in the initial statement I gave the police the morning after the incident.

The most absurd part is that the police report has been changed, and the information reflected in the police report does not state the time I arrived home, or the fact that the house is a bungalow house. The report, the one that has not been fully processed has that the culprits gained entry through a balcony window. To my knowledge a bungalow house does not have a balcony.

Even more upsetting, is that the young man was seen in the neighborhood just last week, and according to the officer in charge, the investigations continue. So he got away with burglary, and I still cannot get a simple police report. Frankly now, I do not trust police officers; this whole ordeal has changed my outlook on the police department. Reliable sources revealed that there have been numerous complaints about the Ladyville and Hattieville Police Stations, with respect to unsolved cases and the very very very slow processing of police reports.

I strongly believe that the criteria for recruiting police officers are too vague, many might not want the job at all, but it's the only job they qualify for. Police officers should know how to properly write and speak English and should have the drive to seek justice rather than receiving bribery or try to extort money from citizens.

Many times victims have to be the one writing out the police statements, and then handing it to the officer to sign. I also strongly believe that many police officers are working along with the criminals, especially in burglaries.

I don't get what can take so long to recover the stolen items or charge the person who admitted to breaking into my house. Some police officers somewhere may be sitting at home using my Dell computer, digital camera, and may have their child playing my PS2.

There is no justice in this country, the criminals have more rights that their victims whose rights were completely violated. I can understand why people take the laws into their own hands, because reporting a crime to police officers, gets you nowhere, its just added frustration even more than the crime itself.

The police officers will take these crimes seriously is if it is one of their own who falls victim.