A small business owner wants the police to increase patrols along the Lady Young Road after a Maraval woman and her 19-year-old daughter were released there after being kidnapped on Friday morning.
Roxanne Smith-Alexander made the appeal hours after 45-year-old Petrina Hernandez and her daughter Amelia Roberts were released on a desolate road a short distance from her vegetable and food stall on the Lady Young Road in Belmont.
Smith-Alexander said her husband was liming with friends in front of their business when one of them noticed a grey car speeding down the hillside road that leads to a telecommunication tower facility. They then saw the two women, who were barefoot and whose hands were tied, stumbling towards them.
“They came up to us and were bawling ‘help, help, help’,” Smith-Alexander said.
She and two female friends attempted to calm the mother and daughter while her husband attempted to contact the police.
“The young girl was trembling like she was terrified,” Smith-Alexander recalled.
She said after the police failed to respond to their calls, her husband and his friends tried to stop police cars that were driving past them periodically. One eventually stopped and turned around to investigate.
Hernandez and her daughter, who Smith-Alexander claimed did not appear to have injuries, were taken to a private hospital in Port-of-Spain where they were examined before being discharged.
Smith-Alexander commended the police officers for the way they dealt with the victims.
“The police were very calm and were not trying to make a scene or anything,” she said.
Asked whether the victims revealed where they were being held, Smith-Alexander said they told her they were blindfolded before they were dropped off.
Smith-Alexander, who has three teenage daughters, said the incident had her family scared for their safety.
“They (the police) used to patrol here day and night. There was also private security but that stopped because they probably got robbed several times,” she said.
She said she was especially concerned for her safety and that of her daughters.
“My children were watching this and saying, ‘Mummy we are not safe in this place’,” she said.
According to police reports, around 4 am on Friday, a group of armed men broke into the family’s home at Andalusia Drive, Maraval. The men are believed to have accessed the property, which is in a residential community with a security guard booth at the entrance, using the Maraval River at the back of the property.
The mother and daughter were blindfolded, and the assailants ransacked the premises, taking an undisclosed number of items before abducting the women. The intruders stole three vehicles—a black Nissan Cefiro, a brown Hyundai Tuscon, and a silver Toyota Yaris. Initial reports were that the three vehicles were recovered on Friday but police has since reported that up to late yesterday, the vehicles had not been recovered.
The report of the kidnapping was reportedly made several hours later when Hernandez did not report to work at her usual time and security personnel, sent by her colleagues to check on her, found the house ransacked. A relative of the two women, who is currently in the United States, reportedly received a call demanding a ransom in US dollars.
In a press release late yesterday, the T&T Police Service (TTPS) said the women were released when police ramped up their investigation and pursued several leads. They checked CCTV footage, gathered intelligence and used available technology and were actively pursuing credible leads when the victims were placed in an unknown vehicle and dropped off along the Lady Young Road.
Police said they received information around 7.45 pm on Friday and went to the location where they found both women and took them to the St Clair Medical Health Facility. The victims have since been re-united with family members and are in good health.
Detectives from the Western Division, the Anti-Kidnapping United (AKU) and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) are continuing investigations.
Persons with information that might assist investigators are asked to call 999, 911, 800-TIPS or any police station.