Police vow burglary crackdown

Grand Cayman drivers can expect to see more police roadblocks in the coming weeks, and known burglary suspects who’ve been released from prison may find themselves the subject of closer scrutiny as police try to halt a growing burglary trend.

Within a 30-hour period from midnight Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service investigated nine burglaries; three at local homes and six at businesses, some which are prominent tourist spots like Don Fosters Dive Centre and the Lighthouse restaurant.

The spate of break-ins isn’t just an unusual occurrence this week. Burglaries in the first few months of 2009 have increased by more than 60 per cent according to figures released by the RCIPS.

Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden said the police Joint Intelligence Unit is breaking down the numbers and pinpointing neighbourhoods where burglaries seem to be occurring with higher frequency.

He said many of those neighbourhoods will be seeing roadblocks at different times of the day and night in the coming weeks.

‘Wherever we see a spike (in burglaries), we will increase the roadblocks,’ Mr. Bodden said. ‘It’s going to be an operational decision based on certain areas. We will try our best to minimise the impact to the motoring public.

‘Officers will not search a car unless they have formed the view that there are reasonable grounds to suspect (passengers) have done something illegal.’

Mr. Bodden said some of the items stolen in recent break-ins, including TVs and certain larger types of electronics, can only be transported by vehicles to locations where they are to be sold. He said police are hoping some burglars can be nabbed in the act while transporting the goods.

‘There is a market for these items, particularly smaller electronics such as iPods,’ Superintendent Bodden said. ‘The public needs to be aware that handling stolen goods is a crime under Cayman Islands law, punishable by up to 14 years in prison upon conviction.’

Police are concerned that burglaries in recent months, especially in George Town, have seemed to focus on businesses, though Mr. Bodden said a fair share of homes are also being hit. He said business owners are getting savvy about protecting their premises through the use of alarms, security guards and even closed-circuit television cameras.

However, he said there are simple things like training employees in theft and burglary prevention that can make a difference.

‘Sometimes employers are not training workers to handle security measures; how they handle cash; where they put TVs, electronics, etcetera,’ Mr. Bodden said. ‘Those are the items (burglars) are going after.’

Most of the businesses hit on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were broken into through the glass door of the business. Mr. Bodden said he realises most companies do not want to change to solid wooden doors simply because of the environment they wish to create for customers and employees.

‘But the more visible (merchandise) is, it becomes more attractive,’ he said.

Problems with repeat offenders are also rampant, according to police. Mr. Bodden said there are some cases where burglary suspects have been arrested, come before the court and have been granted bail only to go out and commit further offences.

However, he said those cases are relatively rare, and that the court does have options to hold violators without bail if they break the conditions of their release.

Of more concern, offenders who are released from prison after serving sentences often choose to go back to a life of crime.

‘There’s work in progress with other agencies to tackle this issue,’ Mr. Bodden said

The police superintendent said he’s actually been meeting with several convicts who’ve been released from prison about what options they have to integrate into society.

‘All of them have alcohol and drug problems,’ he said. ‘A lot of them are basically separated from their families. They don’t have any fixed place of abode.’

Police have formed burglary response and investigation teams in West Bay and George Town, as well as in the Eastern Districts. He said officers from both criminal investigations and patrol would combine to work cases.

The joint intelligence review will assist police in determining which Grand Cayman neighbourhoods to focus on, Mr. Bodden said.