Burglars stealing Cayman

Massive increase in burglaries reported

Landscaping manager Scott Daniels has had it with burglaries.

‘I’ve got 11 guys out of work right now because these people broke in and stole our tools,’ Mr. Daniels told the Caymanian Compass this week. ‘These are guys that won’t be shopping at the grocery store this weekend because I can’t pay them.’

Mr. Baines

Mr. Baines

Mr. Daniels is referring to an incident which happened sometime between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning in which a suspect or suspects broke into a box truck outside Every Bloomin’ Thing on Crewe Road. He estimates $15,000 in specialty landscaping equipment was taken in the theft.

Most of the items were just bought a few weeks ago.

The incident at Every Bloomin’ Thing is just one in a seemingly endless parade of break-ins on Grand Cayman in recent times. Mr. Daniels said people are starting to take notice that the Islands are not as safe anymore.

‘The whole thing about ‘there’s no crime here and a girl can jog at night and you can hang your finger out and people will pick you up and give you a ride without fear’, that’s going away and it sucks,’ Mr. Daniels said. ‘This was the one of the only places in the world where that was the way it was.’

An emphatic point was put on the growing problem in the first week of August when more than a dozen burglaries occurred in the space of less than 48 hours at local businesses and homes. The victims included a woman home alone; venerated tourism locations like Don Foster’s Dive Centre and Lighthouse Restaurant; and even a local music store where owner Curtis Barnett had his laptop stolen.

A massive increase in burglary reports in the first half of this year was the major contributor to a 44 per cent jump in serious crimes and an overall 13 per cent increase in crime in the Cayman Islands.

According to statistics released Thursday by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, there were 300 burglaries reported in Cayman between 1 January and 30 June of this year. That represents a 55 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Thefts also showed some increase, going from 188 reported thefts in the first six months of 2008 to 204 thefts reported in the first six months of this year.

‘Acquisitive crime, where people steal items to sell on, could be expected to rise during an economic downturn,’ Police Commissioner David Baines said. ‘We have been looking at measures to counteract this.’

RCIPS has previously vowed to crack down on the spate of burglaries across the Cayman Islands with a number of measures including road blocks in burglary hot-spots and increased focus on repeat offenders.

‘Wherever we see a spike (in burglaries), we will increase the roadblocks,’ RCIPS Superintendent Marlon Bodden said earlier this month. ‘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.’

There were mixed reports regarding violent crimes. Murders decreased in the first six months of this year. However, those figures did not include recent fatal shootings that have claimed two young men in West Bay and George Town. Attempted murder reports also fell, along with slight drops in incidents of rapes and wounding.

Robberies and attempted burglaries both increased by 50 per cent. There were also five more reports of illegal possession of firearms in the first six months of this year.

Major assaults, minor assaults, threatening violence, and damage to property all increased in the first half of 2009 as well.

Domestic violence was one of the few reported crime categories to see a significant decrease in the first half of 2009, dropping from 83 reports in the first six months of 2008 to 25 reports in January through June of this year.