San Pedro Airstrip Targeted by Thieves

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

John Grief II Airport Runway

The John Grief II Airport in San Pedro Town has been vandalized by thieves. According to the Belize Airport Authority, a little over 1,200 feet of electrical cable was unearthed from the runway lights and stolen by thieves. It is uncertain when the incident occurred but was noticed on January 16th. The BAA explained that immediately upon learning of the incident, technicians were dispatched to San Pedro Town to evaluate the incident and conducted repairs on the damaged wires.

In speaking to The San Pedro Sun, Kenworth Tillett, General Manager of the BAA, explained that thieves targeted the wires for its value. “The thieves removed the wires for the value of the copper,” explained Tillett. It’s an incident that has happened in the past said Tillett but BAA had managed to bring the issue under control. Currently the airfield has been undergoing major renovations, which includes the construction of a fence to prevent trespassing on the airfield.

The recent incident is one that BAA says in unacceptable and those involved should be punished because the safety of others is put in jeopardy. “The people removing the wires need to know that the safety of others is involved, especially when people need to be evacuated during the night from the island,” said Tillett. He explained that the lights on the runway guide pilots especially during late flights or in extreme weather conditions. “The replacement of wires on the runway cost the BAA several thousand dollars”, said Tillett.

And while the stealing of wires is an issue, Tillett went on to explain to The SP Sun that being on the runway without permission from the relevant authorities is against the law in itself. “It’s against the law to be on the airfield or on the runway. Absolutely no one belongs on the airfield. It endangers their lives and that of those utilizing the runway,” emphasized Tillett. The offence can carry a charge of $300 in the first instance and up to $500 in other instances or both fine and six months imprisonment upon conviction.

Tillett says that while people have gotten better at not using the airfield as a “shortcut” the BAA is still working in avoiding vandals from tampering with the light bulbs and electrical wires. As a result the BAA has step up security on the airfield and will be prosecuting those found on the airfield. Tillett ended by appealing to the general public to refrain from walking on or removing light bulbs and wires from the airfield.
The wires have been replaced and the airfield is fully functional, with paving scheduled for later this month.

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