I observed in dismay and absolute unbelief of the unfolding events following the arrest of the infamous Colton Harris Moore, a.k.a. “The Barefoot Bandit”.
Like everyone else, after learning the news of his capture over the holiday weekend, my heart with filled with pride and a sense of nationalism, as our Royal Bahamas Police Force officers, sought after and apprehended this wanted teenage criminal.
I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate and commend the Royal Bahamas Police Force on the apprehension and arrest of the mentioned culprit. Within a week after the bandit’s unwelcomed arrival, ‘our boys’, the RBPF and other undercover crime fighting personnel, accomplished what international law enforcement agencies couldn’t do over a span of two years.
All of this coming on the heels of our independence celebrations, a time when our patriotism was already turned up a few notches. It was a time to be proud of what our little country had achieved for 37 years, along with this recent plus of the bandit’s well publicized arrest.
The Commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Ellison Greenslade, made public the numerous criminal offenses that the fugitive would face.
On the day of his arraignment, The Barefoot Bandit was only charged with illegal entry into this country, and fined a minimal $300 dollars, with immediate deportation. That sentence was beyond ridiculous.
Let’s see, he did enter the country illegally on a stolen aircraft. He broke into several business establishments on Abaco, stealing various items. He stole a boat and fled to Eleuthera. He then stole another vessel in Eleuthera, resisted arrest, and was in possession of an illegal firearm. A 300 dollar fine!!! That amount would not pay the fuel bill that our officers used on their week long search!!! Who will foot the rest of the bill??? ME & YOU!!!…the Bahamian taxpayer!!!
But beside that fact, what message is this sending to criminals here domestically or abroad? Crime is presently at an all time high, and this sentence is not in any way discouraging these actions of ill repute. Stiff penalties must be handed down to show to criminals that we mean business in fighting this war on crime.
But I believe this issue of lenience with this fugitive goes much deeper.
What changed from one day with the Police Commissioner speaking of the offences he was going to be charged with, to the next day with the judge tapping the bandit with a feather?
Can our courts now be pressured by foreign authorities for swift extradition and if so are these authorities going to foot the bill for the damage incurred by the ‘Barefoot bandit’ to private businesses and individual properties, and also the expense involved in the intense manhunt?
Why wasn’t the teacher who allegedly molested students in Grand Bahama extradited back to our shores in the same swift manner?
Criminals far and near whom commit crimes similar to that of the bandit will expect the same sentence and I am sure the lawyers will remind the courts of this incidents. Boat thefts in Abaco have been an issue of grave concern, and are a growing threat to our local tourism industry. In this case, we have an individual caught red-handed, personally stole two vessels and he was not even charged with this serious offence in our courts. If our judiciary would have handed down a charge, along with a serious penalty, this could have been the opportune time to send a strong message to other boat thefts, given the huge publicity in this particular case.
This was a serious mistake and the repercussions, I am afraid, will not prove positive. To the leaders of both of our political parties: YOU NEED TO WAKE UP!!! This country is on a perilous course, with regard to crime and a series of other pressing issues, and if action is not taken in the not too distant future, we will be in for some tough years ahead.
Tired and Fed up,