Today’s Editorial for March 23: Crime affects everything

Cayman’s increase in violent crime
over the past couple of years has affected life on Grand Cayman in numerous
ways already.

Many residents are more careful
where they go on the Island, especially at night. Many women now carry whistles
or other kinds of personal alarms and are more careful not to be out alone late
at night.

Residents have secured their homes
with alarms, fences, lighting and even dogs.

The crime also has a psychological
effect, adding stress and worry to people who already have stress and worry
about things like the economy and their personal finances.

The unprecedented level of crime,
especially violent crime, has made some long-term residents – even born Caymanians
– leave the Islands for greener pastures elsewhere.

But crime has the potential to hurt
the Cayman Islands even more.  As the
story on page one of today’s newspaper indicates, crime is affecting the real
estate market.  Not only are foreign investors
thinking twice about purchasing property here, but so are residents.  

More and more, Cayman is being seen
as a place where there are safe areas and unsafe areas, something that has the
potential to stratify the society even more. 
Gated communities – which didn’t even exist in the Cayman Islands 20
years ago – are becoming more and more popular because people want to live in a
place that is safe for themselves and their families.

For many years, one of the biggest
attractions of the Cayman Islands for foreign tourists and real estate
investors was the lack of crime here. Now we are seeing muggings, home
invasions and a two or three shootings every month.

Things have been very trying here
from an economic standpoint over the past year due to the global financial
crisis.  However, if something isn’t done
to control the violent crime trend, Cayman’s economy might not recover like the
rest of the world.

A sinking economy could well lead
to a declining population, further contracting the economy and causing crime to
increase even more.  That downward spiral
could then be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.