By Brian Ramsey – Amalgamated Security Services Limited
The crime landscape shows that increasingly women are being directly involved in crime and not simply in non-violent crimes such as shoplifting but also as active participants in violent crime.
In 2008, three men dressed in wigs and women’s clothing walked into the Harry Winston Boutique on Avenue Montaigne near the Champs-Elysees in Paris, pulled out handguns and rounded up the staff and customers. In 20 minutes they stole 297 pieces of jewelry and 104 watches with an estimated value of more than €71million. In September 2013, a man wearing women’s clothing and a long black wig robbed the M&T Bank branch on West Baltimore Street, Baltimore USA. He handed the teller a note saying he had a bomb and told the teller to put the money in a black-and-white polka-dot cosmetic bag. In January 2015, a man dressed as a woman wearing a fur coat, purple slippers and makeup, went into a Wells Fargo Bank in Sheboygan, Wisconsin USA and robbed the bank.
To the average Caribbean person these sound like the stuff of movies, reminiscent of the movie Ocean’s 11. These are the kind of plot lines that have us relaxing in our seats at a movie theater or at home in front of the DVD player. Yet, these were actual robberies, which fortunately in each case, the robbers were eventually caught. We often think that these types of robberies can only happen in developed countries but there is an old Caribbean saying that we should always keep in mind that says: “When your neighbour’s house is on fire, wet yours”.
Attitudes, morals, modes of behavior are changing in the Caribbean; in some islands the changes are occurring faster than in others and individuals lament what some see is a breakdown in society. There is, however, one area that has not yet completely changed, and that is a mode of thinking about women. To the vast majority of people, women are not viewed as capable of committing violent crimes such as robbery. As a result, there is a lowering of individuals’ security alertness whenever a woman enters a business place or approaches an individual. The mind of many persons automatically thinks, “It is a woman I do not have to worry”. It is that type of thinking that requires Caribbean people to begin “wetting their houses”.
If one looks at crime in the Caribbean, there should be the realization that individuals should not relax at the appearance of a strange person if that person appears to be a woman. In 2010, two women were strolling through the market in Tunapuna Trinidad pretending to be customers. The women snatched a bag containing a large sum of money from a vendor and attempted to make their escape in a waiting car. The vendor, however, gave chase and raised an alarm. A female police officer who was nearby sought to intervene but the women accelerated their vehicle seeking to knock down the female police officer who then fired two shots at the car, hitting both women. In June 2014, it was reported that two women in Kingston Jamaica, posing as having car problems, were preying on the good nature of female motorists and robbing them when they attempted to render assistance. Also, in June 2014, a 21-year-old female appeared in a San Fernando Trinidad court on a robbery charge. The young woman was identified as someone who was already on bail for previous charges, including murder.
The crime landscape shows that increasingly women are being directly involved in crime and not simply in nonviolent crimes such as shoplifting, but also as active participants in violent crime. If therefore women are involved in violent crime, it is reasonable that individuals should not relax their guard at the sight of a woman; even more so when the apparent woman could be a man dressed as a woman. There are those individuals who believe that they can always spot a man who is dressed as a woman. While that may have been true in the past, on many a Caribbean island there are certain streets, especially at night, where cross-dressers and transgender individuals gather and a visit to any of these streets will show how difficult it now is to distinguish men who are dressed as women. As such the rule should be, be on your guard at the sight of any unknown person – male or female.
Accept that anyone is capable of violent crime and you should be on guard, even at the sight of women.