Baines: Robberies not gang initiation

Violent crimes up more than 10 per cent

A spate of armed robberies
over the past two weeks on Grand Cayman may have involved some gang members but
were likely not done as part of gang initiation rituals, Police Commissioner
David Baines said Thursday.

Mr. Baines said there were
different descriptions of the suspects involved in each robbery, and a wide
variance in the weapons used in each case – some suspects used machetes, others
involved handguns, one case; a shotgun. He said police were checking into
whether any individuals who were recently released from prison may have been
involved in the hold ups.

Between 3 June and 11 June
there were seven armed robberies at businesses in George Town, Savannah and
Bodden Town. Four gas stations, a liquor store, a pizza shop and a Burger King
restaurant were hit. All stores lost a relatively small sum of money.

Many of the incidents were
captured on closed-circuit television cameras. From those images Mr. Baines
said it was apparent that the suspects involved were simply acting out of
“desperation”. A few other robberies were likely cases of opportunity, he said.

“Almost for some it appears
(the robbery) has been undertaken on a whim,” Mr. Baines said. “We had a
strange incident with the three young girls (robbing) the Domino’s…I just think
its opportunism, or stupidity that takes over.

“Middle of the day, with
machetes (taking) a degree of money and two bottles of pop. It’s not exactly
organised crime, is it?”

RCIPS Chief Superintendent
John Jones said there was no apparent immediate connection between any of the
robbery cases. Commissioner Baines denied that any of the recent heists were
related to gang-initiation activities; although he said some of the suspects
were apparently gang members.

“Those are coming out of
people that are driven by drug usage,” Mr. Baines said. “The indiscriminate
whipping of the lady with a gun (referred to a Monday night armed robbery at
the Burger King on North Church Street). Those are all issues about people who
are desperate.”

“Others are almost a calm,
blasé, cap on, smartly dressed, they look like they’ve been out for the
evening. You kind of wonder what that’s about, really.”

Mr. Baines said three people
had been arrested in two of the six robberies that have occurred since last
week.

Higher crime

The recent run of store
robberies put another emphatic point on the serious crime problems Cayman has
been experiencing since the start of last year.

Police crime statistics for
2009 and the first three months of 2010 show a significant rise in violent
incidents, as well as significant increases in other types of crime in the
Cayman Islands.

In 2009, Royal Cayman
Islands Police reported more than an 11 per cent rise in violent crimes.
Attributing to that was a nine per cent increase in burglaries, a 75 per cent
rise in assaults leading to serious injuries, and a 25 per cent rise in weapons
possession cases.

The 2009 figures were
compared to 2008 police crime statistics.

Overall crime rose nearly 14
per cent in 2009 compared to 2008.

The trend has mostly
continued for the first three months of 2010, although burglaries have actually
fallen slightly through March.

Between January 2010 and
March 2010, robberies, attempted robberies, attempted murder, murder and
discharge of firearms reports all increased when compared with the same period
of 2009. 

Mr. Baines said the crime
figures were “serious stuff” and noted that he would like to see a significant
reduction, particularly in violent crimes, through the second half of this year
and into next year.

But he urged people to take
better care of their properties and said residents should realise that Cayman
has changed.

“These Islands were once
where you could leave your door open,” Mr. Baines said. “I’m sorry to say,
those days are gone. We live in a much more complex world where the haves and
the have nots are vastly different.”

Two major areas of crime
concerned the commissioner; first the shootings and assaults that have plagued
the country since January. Five people were killed between January and March in
shootings on Grand Cayman – a record number.

On a positive note, Mr.
Baines noted suspects had been arrested and charged in connection with four of
the five homicides since the beginning of 2010.

The second area of concern
is the increase in “acquisitive crimes”. Thefts have seen a 65 per cent
increase in the first three months of 2010 when compared to the same period of
2009.   

Chief Superintendent Jones
said there has also been an increase in cases where people carrying earnings
from businesses have been robbed on their way home or going to the bank.

“Far too many homes and
businesses on the Islands are very easy to get into,” Mr. Jones said, advising
business owners to take more care in deciding which employees transport their
cash and warning residents not to leave large sums of cash in their homes.

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