Although murders and brazen broad daylight robberies grabbed the headlines for much of the year, the crimes that affected the greatest number of people in the Cayman Islands were burglaries and thefts.
According to Royal Cayman Islands Police Service statistics released at mid year, 300 burglaries occurred between 1 January and 30 June, 2009. Those were incidents that were investigated by police officers who confirmed that either a home or business had been broken into.
RCIPS end of year statistics were not available at press time.
An open records request made by the Observer on Sunday for this article showed that 427 burglary reports had been received by the police service. The largest number of reports came from George Town district (298), followed by West Bay (58), Bodden Town (40), North Side (17), East End (16), and Little Cayman (1).
Police officials said the reason for the discrepancy is that individuals report crimes as burglaries that may turn out to be thefts or even robberies upon further investigation.
For instance, thefts in August at the Every Bloomin’ Thing store in George Town would not be considered burglaries because the suspects broke into trucks outside the store, not the business itself.
The suspects took about $15,000 worth of specialised gardening equipment was taken from inside two box trucks parked in the fenced lot of Every Bloomin’ Thing on Crewe Road in the incident.
EBT Landscaping Manager Scott Daniels said it’s not just the business that is affected by such incidents. In fact, he said the workers that Every Bloomin’ Thing employs will likely find themselves far worse off than the store.
Residents became increasingly concerned at the level of violence being shown during attempted burglaries and robberies in 2009.
In late July, officers reported an attempted break -in during which a man was assaulted by two men in the front doorway of his South Church Street home – one of those suspects was wielding a machete.
The assault victim, who has not been identified by the Cayman Free Press, said the incident on 27 July has changed his view of Cayman in the long-term.
‘We like this complex and have decided we’d like to stay here,’ the victim said in an interview. ‘But there are other considerations. Let’s say I had to go out of town for business. I wouldn’t want to leave my wife here.
‘My longer-term view of Cayman is different,’ the victim said. ‘The level of crime and the type of crime, if you project that five or 10 years down the road…this is not a place we’d want to live.’
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 24 hours at local businesses and homes. The victims included a woman home alone, venerated tourism locations and even a local music store where owner Curtis Barnett had his laptop stolen.
RCIPS has 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.