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By Mark DaCosta- Following a recent street-crime attack and robbery on a local news correspondent, Village Voice News (VVN) decided to undertake an investigation of general street based crimes in Guyana, particularly in Georgetown.
The news correspondent in question was attacked in Queenstown during sunset by three young men one of whom was armed with a large blade or cutlass. After the attackers discovered that the victim had no valuables, the victim was severely assaulted — including with the blade (but, fortunately, was not cut) — and the victim’s footwear was forcibly taken. The victim is recovering from the injuries.
VVN has spoken with a number of Guyanese about the problem. Generally, citizens report a large increase in the numbers of street gangs operating in Georgetown. Such two or three member gangs travel on bicycles or motorcycles, and target males for violent attacks and robberies.
Generally, though, the gangs snatch purses, bags or jewellery from female victims.
One female vendor who sells phone cards near Stabroek Market told VVN that, “the pavement under Demico is the world’s robbery capital.” She said that a violent robbery happens in that area about once every hour, “day and night,” she emphasised.
“The bandits watch out for men who look high or drunk, and they attack the men and take everything, mostly phones and money. But they would take anything,” the vendor said.
The woman said, “they also like to attack [Indigenous men], because some of those men work in the bush, and they might have gold on them.
“Of course, no one intervenes because the bandits have knives, and who wants to get stabbed and end up dead?”
Asked if she could identify the bandits, she said, “Everybody selling around here know the thieves, but we are all afraid to talk.” She added, “Even the police know the thief men, but nothing is ever done. Nothing has been done for all the years this has been going on.”
While Guyanese authorities make claims that Guyana’s crime situation is improving, VVN has found that the average crime rate — as reported by international agencies — is some 15 per cent.
Further, numerous governments have warned their citizens to avoid travel to Guyana because of the situation.
The international body Country Reports has released the following statement to persons visiting Guyana.
“Serious crime, including murder and armed robbery, continues to be a major problem. The murder rate in Guyana is three times higher than the murder rate in the United States.
Armed robberies continue to occur intermittently, especially in major business and shopping districts. Hotel room strong-arm break-ins also occur; you should use caution when opening your hotel room doors and should safeguard any valuables left in hotel rooms. Criminals may act brazenly, and police officers themselves have been the victims of assaults and shootings. When traveling in a vehicle you should keep the doors locked and be aware of your surroundings at all times [. . .].