It was a hot Wednesday afternoon and Jay learnt that a trailer carrying 1152 cases of Heineken had been hijacked and taken to Bohemia, a community in the hills bordering Trelawney & Manchester. All Jay could keep thinking about was the song by Freddie Mercury of Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody…up until the phone call, he didn’t even know there was a place in Jamaica called Bohemia.
Bohemian Rhapsody indeed. As Jay spoke the first 4 lines of the song, he wondered if Freddie Mercury had spent any time in Jamaica recording music… “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality”.
P, Mitch and Jay immediately set out from the plant and learnt that Police had already been dispatched to the area. The tractor head and trailer had been found by the GPS system, recovered and three men plus a car held.
Several phone calls later they arrived at Bohemia, a sleepy village high up in the mountains that had come alive that day with excitement. Driving in, Jay saw Sales and Logistics colleagues from Manchester and Police from Cave Valley and Alexandria. There were about 100 people milling around, shouting “Boss Man, leave the beer with us”.
The trailer had been emptied of its contents and some of the product had been stored in the back of a broken down old rusted truck parked by the roadside; more was also stored in an old collapsing shop perched on a hill’s edge; and some product had already been taken to Cave Valley Police Station for safekeeping & evidence. Jay still doesn’t know what happened to the evidence.
They couldn’t start loading the product onto a sales truck as they had to wait for the Crime Scenes Police to arrive and take whatever forensic evidence was available. They took a couple of hours to get to Bohemia as they were working a crime scene in St Mary.
Bohemia has to be the coldest place in the island; people in the community wore hoodies and coats. All Jay could think of was where to get a cup of coffee. The cold made his teeth chatter so they sat in the car for a while, every now and then nodding off, condensation clouding the windows. Every now and then Jay would open a window and look outside. If anyone had told Jay that somewhere in Jamaica could be this cold at night, he would have told them to stop lying.
One man challenged them and kept saying they should just leave and give the people the beer. He had a firearm stuck in his waist. Mitch, P and Jay stood their ground, faced by the man and a crowd of about 50 people. The Cave Valley Police came back from the station after securing the van load of Heineken. They quietly told them about the man with the firearm and after the Police spoke to him, they informed Jay that he was a Policeman who lived nearby. Jay thought, this illiterate is a Police Officer?
Crime Scenes arrived and began their forensic gathering. Photographs, measurements, more photographs and more measurements – it seemed as if they would never finish. Jay worked alongside them to learn.
Once Scenes of Crime had gathered their evidence, the team started to load the product stored in the shop onto the sales truck.
It was so cold and the crowd was growing, young men standing menacingly around the truck in their hoodies. It reminded Jay of the thug fashion in the UK. And how he thought the UK had failed its people. Jay was tired, annoyed, cold, and hungry. All he wanted now was a hot cup of coffee.
The truck was not being loaded fast enough so Jay went into the rickety shop and started throwing cases through a large open window, just to stay warm and speed up their departure. He soon worked up a sweat, glad for the warm up exercise [who needs a gym?]. Jay kept thinking he was the only person carrying and had to safeguard all their people, so he kept moving faster and faster. He just wanted to be out of there before the crowd got too excited or someone stirred them up to start looting the truck.
Once the shop had been emptied, they moved to the old broken down and rusted truck parked nearby with cases packed inside the back. One of the young men who had helped them load the truck from the shop asked if he could help again. Jay said yes, challenged once more by the Policeman who kept telling them to leave the beer. He was laughing at the young man helping them, saying he wasn’t going to get anything from them but hard work.
When the men had finished loading the product they were ready to move. They talked a bit and decided to leave a few cases for those who had helped them. The Policeman grabbed one of the cases from the young man who had been the most helpful and sauntered off laughing, so they gave their ally a couple more and watched him until he was safely out of sight.
They drove out behind the truck and the empty trailer, on the way to the Manchester Depot. They had only been able to recover 375 cases of Heineken.
When they got there, there was still no coffee, it was now midnight, and they were all tired, thirsty and hungry. And still cold. And Jay was running out of cigarettes!
But they were all glad to be away from Bohemia safely. They started their journey back to Kingston…Phil Collins on the radio – ‘just another day in paradise’.
Over the next few days the investigation revealed that the hijack had been engineered by the driver himself along with a forklift operator, who had taken a day off just to assist with the hijack.
And when Jay looked back at the nine trailer hijacks the company has suffered since 1996, only two have been genuine. Seven have been engineered by the driver himself.
As the Good Book says there is nothing new under the sun.