Racetrack security, police move against light thieves

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December 14, 2016
FILE cables
Cedric Stewart
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Hardly a week after Finance Minister Audley Shaw announced January 5 as Supreme Ventures Limited's takeover of Caymanas Track Limited (CTL), a Sunday-morning raid by the police and the racetrack's security detail, McKay Security, led to the severing of numerous illegal electricity connections to the Portmore, St Catherine, racing plant.

Two persons were detained in the raid, spurred by what THE STAR understands were information that a wave of illegal connections, as recent as on the eve of Saturday's big Diamond Mile Race Day, had sprung up overnight, emanating from the informal 'Train Line' settlement to the north of the 196-acre property.

The racetrack had been plagued by illegal connections to its utility systems, including water, over the years, sending its monthly bills skyrocketing.

However, similar disconnection operations, conducted in 2011, 2012 and 2014, followed by arrests in 2015, had led to dramatic decreases in utilities cost, especially light.

In March 2015, then CEO Cedric Stewart reported that CTL's monthly electricity bill had decreased by $2.5m following a crackdown on trespassers.

Stewart quoted a bill of $6.7m for February 2015, which was down to $4.2m in March. In a shocking admission, Stewart said CTL's April 2014 power bill had ballooned to $8.3m.

The threat of arrests, since 2015, Stewart said then, had resulted in the gradual decrease.

The racetrack's disconnection efforts were boosted in November 2014 after CTL had consultations with authorities and it was revealed that a private entity could move to have trespassers on its utilities prosecuted.

Winsome Callum, corporate communications manager, JPS, confirmed that any affected private entity, working in tandem with the police and technical personnel, can identify electricity theft, in which instance the police can choose to prosecute.

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