HomeNewsJamaica Struggling With Constant Theft of Street Lights
NEWS

Jamaica Struggling With Constant Theft of Street Lights

JAMAICA / 19 MAY 2021 BY SASKIA WRIGHT EN

Street lamps are being pilfered rapidly in Jamaica, hampering government efforts to illuminate crime-ridden areas.

Thieves have made off with 525 street lights during the first five months of 2021, the Jamaica Public Service Company reported recently. Streetlight theft was most common in the towns of Montego Bay and Portmore, areas that, according to the US Department of State, have some of Jamaica's highest rates of violent crime.

The power company disclosed in 2019 that the thefts were harming its investments in public lighting. That year the company began installing new energy-saving LED lights, which have the capability to show when they were last operational.

SEE ALSO: Jamaica Bets on Security Overhaul to Stem Bloodshed, Improve Anti-Crime Fight

The LED lights were quickly stolen in the northern towns of Moneague and Claremont in St. Ann, Jamaica's largest parish.

"Thieves have got wind of it and have figured out [how] to steal the fixture without the tracker being affected," a JPS manager told officials at a St. Ann government meeting.

InSight Crime Analysis

Though the Jamaican government has not offered an explanation for the thefts, officials speculate that criminals are seeking to destroy the street lights – which have been shown to reduce violence in other countries.

A 2017 study in Brazil found that expanding streetlighting in the northeastern part of the country, a hotspot for violence, dramatically reduced homicides.

Even a slight increase in illumination can reduce street crime, according to a long-range study in the Chilean capital of Santiago, which showed that crime dropped by 20 percent with just one more hour of daylight.

SEE ALSO: Caribbean News and Profiles

Jamaica Interior Minister Desmond McKenzie first posited in 2017 that criminals were behind the destruction of street lights, urging residents of Westmoreland, in western Jamaica, to protect the street lights from those wanting to create a cover of darkness to carry out illegal activities. In 2019, McKenzie called for strong action in dealing with streetlight thefts.

That same year, a councilor in Mandeville, a town in central Jamaica, spoke angrily about the theft of recently installed street lights, saying that their removal from concrete poles indicated the involvement of a specialized team.

"Where a man can climb a timber pole, it is hard for a man to climb a concrete pole,” he said.

It is likely that many of these streetlights, or parts of them, were taken to be sold off as scrap. Jamaica has struggled with this in the past. In 2011, the country temporarily banned the export of scrap metal after thieves caused an estimated $1 billion in damages in three years to street lights, as well as railway lines, water pipes, telephone lines, bridges, road signs and other types of infrastructure.

In August 2020, Jamaica passed the National Consensus of Crime, a crime reduction bill, which called for a "more cohesive approach to community renewal and urban planning," and reinforced the need for the power company to repair and replace damaged or stolen street lights.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EL SALVADOR / 21 FEB 2019

It is straight to business for El Salvador’s president-elect Nayib Bukele as he faces unparalleled expectations when it comes to…

MEXICO / 1 JUL 2020

In 2015, Mexico City’s government launched an electronic system that would coordinate the work of police, experts and public ministries,…

COLOMBIA / 26 MAR 2015

A prominent academic and US military official is the most recent voice to call for a “Plan Colombia” in Central…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…