Armed men smashed through the front door of the Reflections Food-4-Less store on Godfrey Nixon Way in George Town on Tuesday night, marking at least the fourth time the business has been hit by robbers in the past 18 months.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service investigators said at least one shot was fired into the frame of the glass door before a masked suspect entered and stole a cash register.
The sales and security staff inside the Reflections ran for the back of the room once they heard the robbers throwing rocks to break the door, police said.
The Reflections robbery bears a strong similarity to an incident reported early Friday morning at Delworth’s Esso where police said two robbery suspects shot through the locked door of the business and took the cash pan from the register. In that incident, the employees also ran toward the back of the store to hide in an office.
“Because the method of entry and cash register being taken is the same, there is a real possibility that these offences are linked,” said RCIPS spokesperson Janet Dougall.
Reflections owner Prentice Panton said he had three workers inside the store when the Tuesday night robbery occurred just before 11pm. However, he said CCTV videos taken inside the business revealed that only one man entered the store and took the register. No one was hurt.
“About two hours after they hit here [Reflections], we were told about two individuals breaking into Cell World at the Mirco Centre,” Mr. Panton said.
Police said there were two men arrested by officers early Wednesday in the parking lot of the George Town shopping centre, however they were arrested on suspicion of possessing ganja.
Cellular World owner Dennis Pascal said his store alarm went off shortly after midnight, but that there appeared to be no damage to the business and no one had gotten inside.
RCIPS did not make any connection between the robbery at Reflections and what occurred in the parking lot of the Mirco Centre.
Officer said they received a report that two men were “acting suspiciously” at the Mirco Centre just before 1am Wednesday. One man was described as having his face covered.
When they arrived, police saw two men on bicycles leave the centre. One of the men was wearing a hoodie, police said.
The officers instructed the men to stop but one cycled off, police said. He was then stopped by the officers a short distance away. Both men, aged 21 and 24 years, were searched and a quantity of ganja was found, police said.
In the robberies at both Reflections and Delworth’s Esso, the businesses kept their front doors locked to protect their workers during the late-night hours. Also in both cases, employees did not try to prevent robbers from taking the cash till.
Police Chief Superintendent John Jones said Friday that this is what officers advise businesses in the case of a robbery occurring.
“The people responsible for these crimes are using guns indiscriminately,” Mr. Jones said. “Until we get those responsible off the streets, all business owners need to work with us, not only to make sure they try to make it as difficult as possible for the robbers to gain access – but most importantly to make sure that appropriate measures are taken to keep their staff as safe as possible.”
Recent robberies and attempted robberies in Bodden Town and Red Bay have ended in victims being shot for no apparent reason, but no one was hurt in the store heists on Friday or Tuesday.
The frequency of robberies at the Reflections group of stores – particularly at the location on Godfrey Nixon Way – has led Mr. Panton to consider selling his business.
He told the Caymanian Compass earlier this year: “The shoplifting and all that, I don’t worry about that too much. But when we start getting shot at, and I gotta think that a staff member gets shot for six dollars an hour … and then on top of it, we know who these guys are … I mean, we’re not going to shut down, but if I could find a purchaser, sure, there’s other things I could do that are more rewarding – and not as high risk.”
Anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed the robbery at Reflections or who saw the suspects flee the scene is asked to call George Town Police Station at 949-4222 or Cayman Crime Stoppers at 800-8477.