Serial rapists scare - Police nab two, hunting others
Two men who have been linked to almost two dozen rape cases have left police worried that serial rapists are on the loose across the island.
One of the men, in Portmore, St Catherine, is scheduled to appear on 15 identification parades based on consistencies in the details of victims' reports in as many cases.
The other suspect, in St Ann and St Mary, was arrested and charged with eight counts of sexual offence, all committed since the start of the year. The man, who was positively identified during identification parades, was out on bail, having been previously charged by the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch for kidnapping and robbery.
Head of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), Superintendent Charmaine Shand, is warning that there are more arrests to come as detectives continue to pursue coordinated investigations across several police divisions into incidents of forcible abductions, rapes, and other sexual assaults and robbery against young females by men purporting to be taxi operators.
These are just two of several rape suspects arrested by the CISOCA in collaboration with other police personnel recently in St Catherine, Kingston and St Andrew, St Ann, and St Mary.
"We believe there are other active serial rapists out there based on other cases that we have in the Corporate Area especially," Shand told The Sunday Gleaner.
"The established modus of these criminals is that they operate as taxi drivers and pick up unsuspecting females, mostly between the ages of 15 and 24, then brandished weapons, forcibly abduct, blindfold and sexually assault the victims.
"The attackers sometimes operate alone or with other criminals posing as male passengers seated in the back of the taxi. Weapons used include guns and knives while both red plate and private plate taxis are used by these criminals."
Shand was only able to provide figures for the Corporate Area which show that, since April, there have been seven cases reported that fit the profile within Kingston and St Andrew - four of which have occurred since the start of the school term. There have also been seven similar reports in Portmore since the start of the year.
The police are currently investigating reports of incidents where females boarded taxis and were taken away from Half-Way Tree, Hope Road vicinity in Liguanea, bus stops in the vicinity of the University of Technology, Torrington Bridge, South Camp Road, downtown Parade in Kingston, Braeton Parkway, Greater Portmore, Portmore Mall, Gregory Park, Cedar Grove in St Catherine and Mammee Bay in St Ann.
Some of the places where the victims have been taken and sexually assaulted include Eastwood Park Road, Hope Road, Ocean Boulevard, Stanton Terrace, Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston, Dunbeholden, East Henderson Drive, Greater Portmore, Grange Lane, and Gregory Park in St Catherine.
"Even as we believe we have made major breakthroughs in these investigations, we are urging all persons who have been or know of others who have been victims of sexual assaults, especially where it involves persons operating taxis, to report to the police," Shand said. "We are determined to identify, arrest and bring to justice every person involved in these crimes."
Measures the police are urging persons to take to help guard against falling victims to rapists
- Travel with company as far as it is practicable and keep a close family member or friend up to date on your movements.
- Choose only licensed taxis with red plates.
And even when you do so, note the number and communicate it to family and friends.
- Before boarding any taxi or as soon as possible after, take a moment to note the registration number and share it with family or friend before. Take photographs of the car and pass it on, if possible.
- Ask the taxi driver to produce his ID and note his name, which must be shared with a family member or friend. If ID is not properly displayed, then avoid taking those vehicles.
- Communicate your point and time of boarding and intended place of disembarking to a family member or close friend.
- If left alone in a taxi with the driver, notify a family member or friend immediately.
- Scream to attract attention if there is any unwelcome sexual advances or attempt at abduction.
- Remember you have the option of using other means of transport.
- Keep handy the number for police emergency and Crime Stop.
- Download and use the 'Stay Alert App'.