Stores, home burgled

In the latest slew of break-ins to hit central George Town, police said burglars ransacked several businesses and got into at least one home between midnight and 3am Tuesday.

Royal Cayman Islands Police investigators said the crime spree started at Don Foster’s Dive Cayman on South Church Street around 12.30am.

‘It was pretty messy,’ store operations manager Sergio Coni said. ‘But as far as we know, they only took a little bit of petty cash…maybe only $80 US. And they didn’t damage the computers or anything.’

Mr. Coni said the offender or offenders got into the store by smashing through a glass door, but motion sensors inside the business set off alarms and police were responding by the time residents called to notify them.

Some 10 minutes later, a woman living on Summit Crescent in the Red Bay area heard noises at the back door of her home. She found her back door open and her purse turned upside down.

Police doubted that the first two burglaries were related, simply because there would have been too great a distance to travel within a 10 minute time span for the same suspects to have been involved.

Investigators said it would also be quite unusual for burglars targeting businesses to break into individual homes at random.

Closer to the scene of the first break-in at Don Foster’s, police said a woman reported that the back window of Howell Shoe Shop on Shedden Road was missing. But investigators said it wasn’t clear if anyone had entered the building or if anything was taken.

Less than half an hour later, around 2am, police were alerted to burglaries at Barnett Music Store and an office for Wendy’s restaurant which is located in the same building.

Both offices were entered by burglars who broke through a glass door in the second story of the building. Music centre owner Curtis Barnett said the suspects trashed his shop, but really didn’t make off with too much.

‘I’m surprised they didn’t take more,’ Mr. Barnett said. ‘In each office, they went rifling through the drawers, but they didn’t take any instruments.’

Mr. Barnett said some $40 was taken from the business’s cash register, and two 8 Megabyte MP3 players were removed but apparently dropped at the store entrance and recovered.

One big blow to Barnett’s was the theft of a laptop computer, which contained much of the music store’s business records.

‘I bought that laptop because my PC got washed away during Hurricane Ivan; we didn’t have it up high enough,’ Mr. Barnett said. ‘So I got this laptop instead.’

Police had not made any arrests at press time, but said road blocks would be employed to disrupt criminals’ movement and also said they would target known burglars around Grand Cayman.

Tuesday morning’s crime spree is at least the third major string of burglaries to occur in George Town within the past 12 months.

In mid-August 2008, five George Town businesses were burgled and two others attempted in the same overnight period. Some dozen businesses were broken into just more than a month later in September 2008.

Burglaries have seen a sharp rise in Cayman so far this year, with police reporting a 61 per cent jump in break-ins over the first three months of this year when compared to January, February and March of this year.