Police: Stolen goods being shipped

Police investigators believe at least some items stolen in the Cayman Islands are being shipped in cargo containers to other countries.

During an interview with the Caymanian Compass last month, Royal Cayman Islands Police officials indicated their belief that not all the merchandise taken in a recent spate of burglaries and thefts in Grand Cayman has stayed here.

‘In my mind…the Cayman Islands is so small, to be stealing so much property, more than likely, they’re probably being sent somewhere else,’ Detective Inspector Kim Evans said. ‘The ways and means to do that is yet to be seen.’

The number of burglaries occurring in Cayman so far this year has shot up. The 300 burglaries reported in the Cayman Islands between 1 January and 30 June represents a 55 per cent increase over the number reported last year. Thefts have also increased by nearly 10 per cent for that same period.

Mr. Evans said small-to-medium-sized electronics items continue to be the most popular for thieves, especially laptop computers. He admits a fair bit of those items are probably being sold on the street here at a far reduced rate.

It is illegal to sell stolen goods, but the Cayman Islands Penal Code also makes it an offence to knowingly handle stolen goods.

‘Persons need to be mindful of that,’ Mr. Evans said. ‘Handling stolen goods is a serious crime.’

Mr. Evans said there are significant risks in attempting to sell stolen goods here in the Cayman Islands simply because of the size of the country and the close-knit community. He said police have formed the belief that shipping goods off island does occur, but is difficult to detect in some cases.

‘That is something that can happen and over the years we’ve been targeting vessels leaving the territory as well,’ he said.

‘One of the difficulties relative to containers leaving the country is that you may have persons who may buy a container and have it consigned for individuals to come and drop off items to that container,’ he said. ‘They pay a fee to ship items in the container. The difficult part is that there are no receipts relative to those items in that container.’

Police and Customs service officers can become suspicious of containers that are inspected and have no receipts for certain items inside.

‘The question is ‘who bought it?’ Another question is ‘where are the receipts?” Mr. Evans said. ‘At the end of the day (the person who bought the container) can be held accountable for it.’

The 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.’

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.

Police have largely blamed the increase in break-ins and thefts seen since the beginning of this year on an economic downturn that has hit markets worldwide. Unemployment has increased in the Cayman Islands over the past year, and tourist numbers have been affected by the financial crunch in the United States particularly.