Police keep watch on the ground level of a building at Maloney Gardens. – File photo/Roger Jacob
Residents of Maloney Gardens say several of their homes were broken into, damaged, and ransacked during a joint exercise by police and soldiers on Sunday.
Videos sent to Newsday showed at least 50 officers, most dressed in tactical gear, canine officers, and soldiers filtering into the area on Sunday morning. Officers were seen in one instance using a sledgehammer to break open a door before entering.
One resident of Building 16, who asked not to be named, said he had gone out to work as a maxi-taxi operator when his neighbours told him police had broken into his house as part of the exercise.
“I left home around 6.30 am, locked my door and everything. I got a WhatsApp message from a partner saying police in my building going door to door, so I let out the passengers I had and went back home.
“When I got there, I met police and soldiers, and one of the soldiers blocked me and said I wasn’t allowed to go in.
“I said I was coming to check my place because I heard police and soldiers were going door to door, so I wanted to make sure if they wanted to open the place – it’s not a problem to open it, but I wanted to secure it.”
He said he was eventually allowed in and found his gallery had been damaged.
“I have a burglarproof in front my door, and it’s on top of some blocks, and I found about 20 blocks knocked down. They opened the door and went inside.
“There was no one home at that point, and when I went in, I saw the place ransacked.
“When I went to ask someone about it, some soldiers were showing off, saying you only studying to make all the money with the maxi.”
He said he had to immediately buy blocks and hire a mason to repair the damage, as he could not be sure the place would not be looted when he went back to work. He said his was not the only apartment which was damaged when law-enforcement officers tried to enter, and they could have asked neighbours to contact people who were not home if they wanted to go in, especially since they would have left doors open for anyone to rob residents after they left.
“My TV could be gone, stove, washing machine, fridge, the money I get from driving the maxi.
“Right now I have to compensate for myself to build back up the gallery.
“I wouldn’t mind compensation for my blocks. I’m a law-abiding citizen – never been in trouble except for the occasional ticket.”
He said many other residents had had their doors bashed in, locks smashed or their burglarproofing damaged.
Senior Supt Wayne Mystar could not be reached for comment.