Surprising data released by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Tuesday showed both serious and minor crimes dropping significantly in most categories over the past six months.
In fact, only two categories of recorded crime went up in the first half of this year when compared with January through June of 2007. Murders increased from one to five (the recent killing of West Bay’s Mark Jefferson was not included because it happened after 30 June), and attempted murders went from three to nine.
Overall, the total number of serious crimes fell by more than 40 per cent for the first six months of this year, including drastic drops in burglaries, attempted burglaries, assaults, robberies, and cases of firearms possession.
Volume crimes, which are generally more minor offences like theft, damage to property, threatening violence and minor assaults; dropped by 37 per cent in the first half of this year according to police.
‘These strong results should pave the way for 2008 to be another consecutive year where crime has fallen,’ Acting Police Commissioner David George said.
The precipitous drops in crime appear to reverse a recent trend for crime numbers in the Cayman Islands.
Serious crimes continued to drop through 2007, though that decline had appeared to be levelling off through the end of last year. Volume crimes had gone up significantly in 2007 when compared to 2006.
But both serious and minor crimes have seen a sharp drop so far this year, with the exception of murders and attempted murders.
For instance, there was a huge drop in burglaries in the first half of 2008 when compared to January through June of 2007. Just 190 burglaries were reported to police in the first half of this year, compared to 308 in the first part of 2007.
Not only is that a major drop when compared to last year, it’s the lowest number recorded by RCIPS in some time. In the first half of 2003, Police reported 249 burglaries. In the same period for 2004, that number was 231.
‘Overall, this is good news for the Cayman Islands,’ Mr. George said.
The bad news
Cayman’s murder rate for 2008 has surpassed anything the islands have seen in the past five years. Six people have been killed through 11 July.
In the five previous years, Cayman has only seen a total of six homicides once in 2004. For 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007 there were three killings each year.
Also, the number of attempted murders so far in 2008, nine, significantly exceeds any recent year’s total.
‘We do share the community’s concern around high profile incidents of violent crime that have taken place and are pleased to say that our last two murder investigations have resulted in people being put before the court,’ Mr. George said.
He cautioned against drawing comparisons between Cayman and the murder rates of countries with much larger populations
‘We have to be very careful not to take what is a disappointing, but very small number and extrapolate out into comparing with other countries…that just isn’t appropriate,’ he said.
Mr. George said the deaths this year do not appear to have any connection to each other.
‘The three murders that have taken place while I’ve been here; there is no linkage between the three of them. So, we couldn’t say they were gang-related or because of (other) incidents, by any stretch of the imagination.’
Although there may not be a direct connection between any of the killings, most of the victims have been young Caymanians.
Josh Hooker, Aaron Berry, Brian Rankine and Mark Jefferson were between the ages of 18 and 23. The two other homicide victims were Frederic Bise, 40, a Swiss national, and Martin Gareau, 47 a Canadian.
Arrests have been made in connection with all of the killings, but charges have been filed in only three of the incidents.