Seven robberies reported in New Year
Cayman’s latest robbery, of a vacationing couple in a remote and peaceful area of East End, is the seventh to occur since the start of the year.
Monday’s incident was also the second attack on a beach visitor to be reported since the beginning of 2011.
“This is a very remote location and it’s extremely unusual for an incident like this to take place in the area,” said Royal Cayman Islands Police Sergeant Dwayne Jones of Monday’s attack.
Around noon Monday, RCIPS investigators said a man and woman parked their rental car on a pathway off the Queens Highway next to Bare Foot Beach.
A short time later police said the couple was suddenly confronted by three men. All three had their faces covered by T-shirts and two were armed; one with a baseball bat and another with a knuckleduster.
Police said one of the robbers grabbed the male tourist, placed him in a headlock and demanded cash. The victims them handed over a wallet containing a small sum of cash.
As the suspects were leaving the scene, RCIPS investigators said the men smashed the window of the couple’s rental car with the baseball bat and stole a camera.
The man and woman were not injured in the incident – but police said they were left shaken by the ordeal.
The suspects were described as follows: the first man approximately 17 years old, 5 feet 7” with a dark complexion wearing a dark blue NBA jersey; the second suspect was described as about 5 feet 10”, he was wearing short pants and carried the baseball bat; the last suspect was about 6’ and approximately 165 pounds, wearing a white shirt and short pants.
The RCIPS has ordered additional patrols in the area following the incident.
The man who was assaulted and robbed left his own account of the events Monday on an international snorkelling guide website.
“We have the beach to ourselves,” the man wrote on ‘Testudo’s Snorkel Guide. “Soon afterwards a group of three young men came down the path and walked towards us.
“We said hello and the next thing we knew the three of them surround us and one placed me in a headlock. [He said:] ‘This is a stick-up.’ I’m thinking ‘what the hell is going on here?’ Then I see a pair of brass knuckles and another robber brandishes a mini-aluminium baseball bat. ‘Give us your money!’ Now it sinks in, ‘Holy [expletive], we’re getting robbed.’”
The man said the couple ended up losing about $20 and that the windshield of their rental car was smashed.
He also thanked the Reef Resort staff and the RCIPS for their quick and thorough response to the incident.
“I felt like we were in an episode of CSI,” he quipped.
“Although the location is out of the way, it is entirely possible that someone travelling on Queens Highway saw the suspects either before or after the incident,” Sergeant Jones said. “If anyone has information that could assist the enquiry they should call Bodden Town CID on 947-2220 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).”
Although what actually occurred has never been made public, a young American visitor has claimed in the US press that he was stabbed in what he took for a robbery attempt on 19 January along Seven Mile Beach.
“I went around the side [of the bar] to try and call my girlfriend,” Brian Andrews told Phoenix14 News. “There were these guys there, one of them approaches me and it was literally just a normal conversation. Next thing I know, he’s lunging at me and it was really dark. I immediately spun around and I ran away. I looked down and realised I’m bleeding.”
The Cayman Islands press has never reported the incident as a robbery, nor have police confirmed it as such.
According to brief accounts of the incident, police said the 21-year-old man was assaulted on the beach near Calico Jack’s bar and transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Calico’s owner Handel Whittaker said he was uncertain if the man had been attending the bar’s Full Moon Party that night simply because there were so many people around. However, he said the assault victim did run to the bar for assistance after being attacked.
“We believe the individual walked down the beach and there were some guys down there…he must have put up a fight and they stabbed him,” Mr. Whittaker said. “This did not happen at Calico Jack’s, we take every step to keep our patrons safe and sound.”
However, Mr. Whittaker also noted that the incident is a major concern for everyone in the country’s tourism business.
“This is ridiculous,” he said. “It’s very concerning to us.”
Mr. Andrews, 21, is a junior at Elon University in North Carolina where he was named a Dean’s list honouree for academic achievement in January. He was visiting Cayman as part of a study abroad group from the college.
Without counting the 19 January incident on Seven Mile Beach as a robbery, there have been seven heists reported since 1 January on Grand Cayman.
Those included Monday’s beach robbery in East End and a 1 February armed hold up at Timbuctuu diner in West Bay. It was unclear whether any money was taken in a 3 February incident where armed men entered the MoneyGram store in Meringue Town plaza, so that incident was not added to the total by the Caymanian Compass.
Similarly, a reported armed robbery on 15 January at the Reggae Money Express store in Elizabethan Square was later alleged in court to be a planned theft and so was not counted in the final total.
On 27 January, Joe-Ena’s liquor store in West Bay was robbed and there were initial reports that a shot was fired, but police never confirmed that actually happened.
Four other robberies occurred last week within five days of one another. Those involved Gino’s Pizza shop on West Bay Road, the Timbuctuu diner, a hold up of a laundromat worker in George Town as she left her job and the robbery of a Bodden Town convenience store where a clerk was assaulted.