CASTRIES, St Lucia -- In a bid to address the illegal sale and purchase of gold and other precious jewellery in Saint Lucia, the Lucian People's Movement (LPM) has called for the enactment of tougher legislation to help deal with the situation.
According to the LPM, much of the gold and precious jewellery currently in circulation on the island are a direct result of home break-ins and street robberies, which are frequently under-reported. On a daily basis, thieves and other criminally minded persons are finding ways to invade the privacy of law-abiding citizens and engage in the illegal trade of selling gold for cash.
The LPM added that, while both the citizens of Saint Lucia and visitors deserve the right to feel secure in their dwellings and on the streets of the country, the government should consider passing legislation that is not simply aimed at protecting them, but which is also designed to help victims recover their stolen possessions. The legislation should include severe punishment for perpetrators of these crimes, as well as those who aid and abet them.
In a series of recommendations that could help in the enactment of tougher legislation in dealing with the problem, the LPM has proposed the following:
A) Create trained and paid groups of auxiliary police who are empowered to patrol the streets of local communities and authorised to make immediate arrests for crimes occurring in their presence.
B) Require cash-for-gold dealers and pawn shops to demand personal ID from persons attempting to sell gold and other precious jewellery.
C) Allow a waiting period of 10 business days before a sale of gold and precious jewellery is finalised and payments are disbursed to a seller. The law should also make it mandatory for the purchaser or store owner(s) to photograph the jewellery after the initial sale and to immediately turn over all documentation on the proposed sale to the police for thorough scrutiny and verification.
D) The new legislation should make it an offence for anyone to purchase gold and other precious jewellery on the streets without prior knowledge of the true identity of the person making the sale.
E) Even in cases where the identity of the seller is known during a street purchase, the law should make it mandatory for the purchaser to report that sale to the police.
F) Anyone caught with stolen jewellery in their possession should be held liable and be subject to a lengthy prison sentence in accordance with the new law.
The LPM said it remains firmly of the opinion that the adoption of these measures may serve as a deterrent to home break-ins, street robberies and other socially deviant behaviours that encourage the illicit sale and purchase of gold and other precious jewellery on the island.
In addition, the LPM added that it is hopeful that these same measures can be applied across the board to include laptops, phones, tools and other construction equipment, as well as the sale and purchase of many other items considered "hot" commodities on the black market.