Robbers raid training facility for the disabled

Paul Wilson, coordinator at Creative Craft Plus in downtown Kingston, his wife Angela and two other workers, were in for a rude awakening this morning when they turned up at the facility, which provides training for several disabled persons, to find it ransacked.

All the locks to the storerooms and offices were broken off; files were strewn all over the place; and two speakers and an amplifier, as well as money, totalling the business' sales for the week, were missing.

Wilson and his wife, who are both visually impaired, were still in a state of bewilderment when The Gleaner visited them today. They were still trying to assess the full extent of the robbery.

The property, located at 92 Hanover Street, is owned by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the premises, which are in a serious state of dilapidation, also house a storeroom for the Jamaica Council for Person with Disabilities. The establishment  is also home to a wheelchair project, funded by Food for the Poor.

Wilson told The Gleaner that they locked up the place and left about 3:00 o’clock on Friday afternoon and returned this morning to the discover that there was a break-in.

The intruders ransacked the building, overturning drawers and discarding files, as well as damaging infrastructure.

The matter has been reported to the Central Police Station and Wilson said at least three police teams visited, but he expressed disappointment with their handling of the situation.

The Gleaner contacted the police, but they declined to provide information, noting that the investigating officer, Detective Corporal S Blackwood was not available.

The Wilsons said they were awaiting a visit from personnel from the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities and Food for the Poor to determine the full quantity of the damage and theft.

The incident has caused a major setback for the Creative Craft Plus, which, in recent years, has fallen on hard times, as several of its sources of funding have dried up. The HEART Trust/NTA and Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), which provided support to train at least 12 persons in chair caning each year, no longer provide them with funds, they said.

Creative Craft Plus' services are centred on cane chair repairs and minor repairs to dressers and chest of drawers, Wilson explained.

“Right now we are not training, because we don’t have the any funding to provide the stipend and lunch each day for participants. However, on a daily basis we have products for sales and usually we have lots of persons coming in over time with their products to be repaired, which we do- chair caning primarily and antique stuff.”

Their immediate concern is how to restart operations in a building where security has been compromised and their products now exposed to the elements, as a result of the damage to windows and other infrastructure by the rampaging robbers.


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