A 17-year-old Hamilton Parish teenager will spend Christmas behind bars on remand after he admitted a crime spree of break-ins that netted $22,000 in cash, jewelry and electronic equipment.
Police disclosed at a news conference held on Thursday, that the self-confessed teen burglar was arrested after a member of the public reported seeing a male teenager fitting his description acting suspiciously.
The officer did not say where the young man was spotted, but he stated that the 17-year-old suspect was assisting police shortly after his arrest.
He was formally charged in Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning in Plea Court, where he was told by Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo that the court needs “to find out why it has come to this” for a young man with no previous convictions.
Elisha Thomas admitted charges stemming from six burglaries and one attempted burglaries, all at private residences. He was remanded in custody until February pending social inquiry reports for the Magistrate to consider before passing sentence.
According to the prosecutor, the Crown alleged that Thomas targeted homes in Smith’s, Hamilton Parish and St George’s, on a crime spree that started in June at a home in Hamilton Parish, that lasted right up to December.
The suspect was also recorded on CCTV cameras at a private residence in St George’s showing the defendant going through a hedge wearing gloves and a bandana to conceal his identity.
The police report also included an attempted break-in at another home in St George’s on October 20th, where the suspect escaped through a hedge when spotted by a neighbour. Damage to a kitchen window was later discovered at that residence.
Two weeks later on November 7th, there was another break-in at another residence where a window-mounted air conditioner was removed to gain access to a home on Lighthouse Hill in St David’s on November 15th.
CCTV cameras at that property caught the suspect attempting to open a door and jumping behind a nearby set of stairs to hide when vehicle drove by. The attorney for the Crown also said the suspect tried to block one camera by covering it with a sock while he broke into the property. Another break-in was committed at a Smith’s Parish residence the following day on December 5th.
The court also hear that Thomas initially denied committing the offences. But he later changed his tune and started to confess after investigating officers showed him a shirt seized from his home that matched one worn by the suspect caught on camera.
The suspect later began to assist police by reconstructing some of the crimes committed by showing them how he broke into some of the homes he raided.
Meanwhile, police urged residents to be extra vigilant to avoid or prevent criminal opportunists from ruining their Christmas holiday.
Police Detective Sergeant Clifford Roberts Jr warned householders to always lock up their homes before leaving or going to bed, turn on lights if they plan to be out late at night and avoid leaving empty boxes for big ticket items outside their homes.
He also urged area residents to watch out for their neighbours by keeping an eye on each other’s property and report any suspicious activity, including people or vehicles in their areas with descriptions or licence plate numbers whenever possible.
Mr Roberts encouraged residents to avoid leaving cash, gifts, and jewelry out in the open, where it can be seen through windows, and to make sure that homes fitted with alarms have systems in full working order.
Residents travelling abroad for the holidays were advised to let their neighbours know, arrange to have someone check up on their properties, and make sure someone empties their mailbox regularly. He also advised motorists to keep their keys handy when returning to their vehicles and to travel with another person whenever possible.
Christmas shoppers were urged to avoid carrying large sums cash and to be careful when using ATMs. Women in particular, were advised to keep their shopping bags and handbags close and drivers were urged to park in well-lit areas and make sure that packages are stored out of sight.
Acting Inspector for the Community Action Team (CAT), Shakisha Minors urged residents “not to forget the opportunist criminals” anxiously waiting “to commit burglaries, robberies, thefts from vehicles and stores”.
“When withdrawing currency from an ATM, do so at a secure location where you can view persons approaching from all sides. When shopping, especially for women keep your handbag on your shoulders and do not leave it unattended for a moment. Men, ensure that wallets are secured – buttoned or zipped in pockets,” she said.
“When shopping with children, never leave them unattended in vehicles and ensure you have an agreed meet up location in the event that you are separated. Ensure children know how to identify storekeepers or security staff in the event they need help.
“When out partying use the buddy system whenever possible and especially when going back to vehicles. Keep your cell readily available in case of an emergency,” she added.
“The Bermuda Police Service wants everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season.”
For more helpful Crime Prevention tips visit the Bermuda Police Service website www.bermudapolice.bm under Crime Prevention info.
- Photo Courtesy of BPS Media Relations