Despondent Social Welfare recipients walk away from TTPOST, Guaico, Sangre Grande, when they were informed that the building was vandalised and cheques were stolen.

Vandals broke into the TTPost Guaico, Sangre Grande centre and stole close to 2,000 social welfare and pensioners’ cheques somewhere between Sunday night and yesterday morning.

Elderly nationals who went to collect their cheques yesterday were given the disappointing news by employees of TTPost that 1,836 cheques were stolen.

The disappointment was seen on their faces, some asking questions while others left the building angrily.

Police were told that employees who reported for duty yesterday morning were greeted with official letters torn up and scattered about the floor, with the entire place ransacked and left messy.

When they looked up they saw galvanized sheets missing.

Sangre Grande police officers responded.

Apart from Sangre Grande, the branch serves people from Plum Mitan, Biche, Cumuto and Manzanilla.

Police were surprised there were no security cameras in the building but were able to get footage from the nearby constituency office of the Member of Parliament for the area, Dr Rai Ragbir.

Dr Ragbir made a call for more police patrols in the area saying he couldn’t believe thieves would take poor people’s cheques.

He asked what are they going to do with these cheques?

“The criminals have put much stress on the needy people and single parents. Christmas now finish and these people were depending on their social welfare cheques and pension to purchase groceries and pay bills,” he noted.

He also called on the authorities to establish proper security at TTPost.

Most of those who turned up to collect their cheques expressed sadness at the outcome.

“We are dependent on our cheques to buy groceries and pay bills and look what we are faced with, in the beginning of the New Year,” one person said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services issued a statement asking for the public’s indulgence and patience during this time.

“All financial institutions, merchants and supermarkets were asked to be on the alert should these cheques be presented for payment. A list of these cheques are available on the Ministry’s Website and social media platforms, and will be published in the newspapers,” the statement said.

The Ministry apologised for the inconvenience and said efforts will be made to replace the stolen cheques so that any interruption to grant funding and its senior citizens’ pension is minimal.

— with reporting by

Ralph Banwarie