An unusually high number of Jet Skis have been stolen within the past few weeks in the Cayman Islands, leading to several arrests by Royal Cayman Islands Police officers investigating the cases.
Since 31 May, police have reported that eight personal watercraft, like Jet Skis and Wave Runners, had been stolen on Grand Cayman; all have since been recovered.
Four additional Jet Ski theft reports are still being looked into.
Arrests were made over the weekend in connection with the Jet Ski thefts. Five of the personal water craft were found in the Myles Road area of George Town. The three other machines, and two boat engines, were recovered by Marine Unit officers during their investigations.
The craft on Myles Road were found after someone reported ‘suspicious activity’ in the area the Jet Skis were stored.
‘Jet Skis…are sought-after items and owners should take all precautions possible to protect them from theft,’ RCIPS Inspector Brad Ebanks said, adding that he was pleased by the recent recovery of the eight stolen personal water craft.
‘This will send a clear message to those involved in the thefts that they will be caught,’ Mr. Ebanks said.
Police did not state why all the watercraft were taken, but Department of Environment marine enforcement officers who assisted on the case said the craft are generally taken for replacement parts.
‘My guys do find Jet Skis now and again that have been stripped and left in the dyke roads,’ Acting DoE Chief Enforcement Officer Mark Orr said. ‘I don’t know whether it’s a chop-shop business or if it’s individuals just looking for parts for their own craft.’
Four men between the ages of 17 and 21 were arrested Friday on suspicion of theft in connection with three of the recovered Jet Skis. A juvenile suspect was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of handling stolen goods in connection with the theft of a Wave Runner.
Inspector Ebanks urged watercraft owners to disable the machines when they were not in use, and use a padlock if the machines are kept on a trailer.
‘If possible, remove the machine from the water,’ Mr. Ebanks said. ‘These offenders have gone to great lengths to steal these personal watercrafts.’
Police encourage personal watercraft owners to record all serial numbers and to take pictures of them in case they are stolen, as this can aid in returning the machines if they are recovered.
Property crimes rise
According to the latest crime statistics released by the RCIPS, Jet Skis are not the only things being stolen more often than is normal on Grand Cayman.
Most property-related offences rose within the first three months of 2009.
Burglaries rose by more than 60 per cent when comparing January, February and March of 2009 to the same three months of 2008. Again, numerous burglary arrests were made in the early part of this year, some 42 in all. But Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis said it was a concern.
‘We are experiencing a worrying trend in recidivism among those committing these crimes,’ Mr. Ennis said in May.
Thefts rose by 12 per cent in the same period and reports of damage to property went up more than 17 per cent in early 2009.
The large increase in property-related crimes was not duplicated in the number of violent crimes reported by the police for the first quarter of this year.
Firearms cases were the only incidents to significantly increase. Serious violent crime went up slightly, but overall violent offences declined for the quarter. Robberies also decreased slightly.