Residents of Palmiste Block 4 in San Fernando are now running scared in the wake of the recent kidnapping of Jamaican businessman Yohan Chin. They say they are now seriously concerned about an influx of “strangers” in the community and fear for their safety.
Some residents claimed there are a lot of South Americans, Jamaicans and Guyanese renting either entire houses or rooms in the community, noting there may be criminal elements among them.
“Owners are not concerned about these people and what they are involved in or the people they are associated with...all they care about is the money they getting,” one resident, who wished not to be identified, told Guardian Media during a visit yesterday.
The resident, a retiree who has been living in the area for the past 30 years, said he was shocked to hear about the kidnapping.
“This is too close to home...and I’m very concerned. Things like this have never been heard of and it is concerning but in this specific case it suggests that it was directed to the person and well-orchestrated, especially with the good security service and patrols we have in the area...the people who came in would have known how to get around the security.”
He added that what was even more of more concern was that reports stated the alleged kidnappers were dressed like police officers.
“So while we would feel comfortable in a heightened police presence, how do we differentiate who’s who...who the real police are to the fake ones?”
Another resident said he didn’t even know of the kidnapping until he heard it on the news and read it in the newspaper. He added, however, that while he lives noting of such serious nature had happened before, he was the least bit concerned. “I live here and I feel safe but what I can tell you is that I am not going to rent out my downstairs, which is a full apartment, to anyone, because a lot of these strange people...Venezuelans, South American people, coming here and joining forces with the local gangs and staying in areas like this because they under the radar in residential areas like here.”
At one of the businessman’s homes at Aileen Avenue yesterday, Anti-Kidnapping Squad officers arrived at the condo around 3 pm carried out searches. Parked in the garage was a Mercedes Benz, which was the vehicle Chin instructed his business partner to sell to help make up the money to pay the US$6 million ransom demanded.
One of the officers told Guardian Media the investigation was sensitive and said they could divulge no information. Shortly after the two unmarked police vehicles left, a white SUV pulled up inside the yard. Two of Chin’s female relatives were inside. When Guardian Media approached them for comment they described the situation as “traumatic.”
One of them said: “We not speaking to nobody.”
However, the other woman said: “Right now we are now settling down and maybe after we have settled we would say something, but not right now.”
Asked if they had a photo of Chin, the woman replied: “No! Sorry.”
While the Guardian Media was in the area there were at least two private security firms patrolling in vehicles.
Chin, co-owner of a pharmacy in Marabella, was kidnapped from his home on Sunday. He later contacted his partner and suggested he sell his luxury Porshe, a Mercedes Benz and a parcel of land in Cunupia to raise the ransom as the kidnappers also demand an initial TT$400,000.
According to a police report, Chin was at his home at Monica Drive, Palmiste, in the company of a woman when a group of men dressed in police uniforms, wearing ski masks and hats with the markings “Police” stormed in. In an official police report, Chin’s 36-year-old business partner, also of Aileen Avenue, told police he received a phone call from Chin on Sunday telling him of his abduction. Chin also instructed him to sell his vehicles and property to organise some money and he would call him back with further instructions. The businessman told police when he went to Chin’s house he discovered it totally ransacked and he also met the woman who told him she was asleep when she was awakened by the commotion.
The businessman told police when he removed Chin’s Porsche he received numerous calls after from Chin’s cell phone with various instructions, including requesting that he organise certain amounts of cash.
On Tuesday, the businessman told police he got another call from Chin, this time telling him to sell the Porsche car and his Mercedes Benz and to contact their attorney to sell a piece of land in Chin Chin Road to make up the ransom.
Police said Chin has not been heard of or seen since.
Sgt Williams assisted by a team of officers from the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, including ASP Pariman, subsequently detained Chin’s business partner for questioning.