CIMA chair battles crime troubles

The man who formerly had oversight of all law enforcement agencies in the Cayman Islands is now attempting to wage a much smaller-scale fight against crime on his own property.  

Cayman Islands Monetary Authority Chairman and former Chief Secretary of the Cayman Islands government George McCarthy recently wrote to the country’s Central Planning Authority stating his belief that burglars had attempted five times within the past two years to break in at his George Town home. The location of the home is not being released by the Caymanian Compass for security reasons. 

Mr. McCarthy said he believed the incidents were merely ‘crimes of opportunity’, and hoped his home was not being targeted because of his previous position within the government.  

“The thought has occurred to my mind, but I would not want to believe that any of those factors are contributing to the invasion of my privacy,” he said.  

“The records of the Royal Cayman Islands Police will attest to three occasions, the damage to the exterior of the house was quite extensive and resulted in significant cost to rectify,” Mr. McCarthy wrote to the planning board. “Fortunately, the burglars did not gain access to the interior of our home.” 

The former chief secretary sought to correct the situation by increasing the chain link fence around part of his property from 4 to 5 feet and putting another foot of barbed wire on top of the fence – raising the total fence height to 6 feet.  

According to planning authority minutes, Mr. McCarthy did this without planning approval.  

He then submitted an application for the 6-foot fence around the back of the property to protect his home, but was denied the ability to do so by the planning authority board.  

In its decision, made last month, the planning authority did give Mr. McCarthy permission ‘after the fact’ to have a 5-foot chain link fence. However, it did not agree to allow him the extra foot of barbed wire on top.  

“The authority is of the view that a barbed wire fence in a residential area does not provide for a visual appearance that is compatible with residential development,” the board stated in its decision on the application.  

Also, members commented that a barbed wire fence in a residential area “creates a perception that there may be a problem with crime in the Cayman Islands” and that this was not consistent with the goals and strategies of the country’s 1997 Development Plan.  

Mr. McCarthy, in his letter to the planning board, apologised for “engaging in an act that has been deemed to be in contravention of the Planning Law” but also set out the reasons why he was seeking to put up a 6-foot barbed wire fence. 

In the first break-in attempt, which happened in September 2009, an alarm went off when would-be burglars sought to force their way into the door, Mr. McCarthy said. The second and third occurrences didn’t involve an actual burglary attempt, but rather suspicious vehicles parked across the street from the home.  

“As soon as attempts were made to approach these vehicles to inquire as to the reason for being parked where they were, the vehicles drove away immediately,” Mr. McCarthy wrote.  

In May of this year, someone rang the doorbell of the house at 2.30am. Mr. McCarthy stated he opened the door and heard footsteps moving away. He eventually spotted the individual who rang the doorbell getting into a car which then drove away.  

“Following this experience, I took the decision not to place on record another complaint with the RCIP[S] as to do so would not have achieved any meaningful result,” he wrote. “This is not to suggest that I would have expected the RCIP[S] to ignore my report of a trespass unto our property, but having knowledge of the myriad of complaints of theft and break-ins that had by then become the norm within our community, I took the view that this would be one more complaint added to the list of matters to be dealt with by the RCIP[S] and which would remain unresolved.”  

The last incident also occurred sometime in May, as Mr. McCarthy was about to leave his home for a meeting. Again, he answered the door and heard footsteps rapidly moving away.  

“I then rushed to the side of the house at which point I could see two individuals on the immediate opposite side of the fence with their faces being partially masked,” he wrote, adding it was obvious the two masked suspects had just scaled the then-4 foot chain link fence at the back of the home. Mr. McCarthy said he decided to raise the fence another foot and install an additional foot of barbed wire on top of it.  

According to the planning authority minutes, a similar application – this time for an 8-foot fence with barbed wire on top – had been made by another resident who had her home burglarised. The authority agreed to a 5-foot fence with no barbed wire on top in that case.  

Regarding Mr. McCarthy’s claims in the letter, the planning board stated, “The content of the applicant’s letter did not satisfy the authority that a barbed wire fence is appropriate in a residential area.” 

Since increasing the height of his fence and getting a German Shepherd, Mr. McCarthy said things have calmed down. He also said increased police patrols in the area have helped make the community feel safer.  

“I have to give credit to the planning board, the way they have worked with me on this,” he said. “The [5-foot fence] is not an eyesore to the community.”  

However, the former chief secretary points out that he now has to keep external house lights on all night, which has impacted his light bill, in addition to repairs caused by the previous break-in attempts. 

“It’s quite an unfortunate set of circumstances,” he said. 

George McCarthy

Mr. McCarthy


  1. I regret that Mr McCarthy or anyone in the Cayman Islands is forced to endure such outrageous assaults upon their personal property.
    The CPA need to get their heads out of the sand and face the realities of life in the Cayman Islands today. No one should live here with concern for their personal safety.
    In the US a man’s home is his castle and defending one’s property is a human right.

  2. It is unfortunate and I feel saddened that our former Chief secretary the Hon. George McCarthy and his family has had to endure so much pain and disruption, and inconvenience at this time in his life.

    For the planning department and or residents in his neighborhood to suggest that the fence that Mr. McCarthy constructed to secure his home would not only be a sore eye but send a bad message that there is crime in Cayman is not only inaccurate but totally insane. Why push the envelope neighbors, there is much more crime in Cayman than is being reported and it’s right under your nose.

    I think that the planning department should have been more considerate and more respectful seeing that Mr. McCarthy is a former Chief Secretary of the Cayman Islands, a man of integrity, good morals and exceptional good judgement.
    In my opinion as a former highest ranking civil servant Mr. McCarthy is well qualified for body guard or secret service protection. It is high time that the Cayman Islands government security systems stop playing games with people who held very important offices in our government, since they are at risk for many different reasons. As a former Chief Secretary and Financial secretary, these are very high ranking positions and it is irresponsible on the part of our government not to have the necessary security measures in place to protect civil servants of these high ranks from hoodlums and criminals who may be used to carry out the orders of crooked politicians who may want to target these former civil servants in hope of covering up some of their greedy sins dating back to way back when or where, we’ll probably never know.
    I am convinced that the former Deputy governor is being targeted. In lieu of the manner in which the country is being run and the number of anti-corruption cases being heard, there are greedy sharks out there that will do anything and everything to coverup their wrongdoing even if it means hurting innocent and honest people.

    I call on the government to consider providing secret service 24 hours a day to protect these retired level of high ranking officials such as the former Hon. Mr. George McCarthy. We look pretty stupid and irresponsible having these people move around in our society unprotected.
    Its time to mature our local and national security systems and concede to the global standards of local and national security.

    May God bless Mr. McCarthy and his family.

  3. Well, well…

    If Mr. McCarthy, who’s record of service and character in Cayman is impeccable, doesn’t qualify for a govt. paid bodyguard, doesn’t qualify for having a barbed-wire chain link fence to protect his property and person, surely he qualifies for a shorgun licence ?

    As another poster has said, from my knowledge of Cayman, this sounds as much like harrassment and intimidation as it does burglary and property damage.

    Get your German Shepard properly trained and get a SHOTGUN, George !

  4. I add my regrets and sympathy to those commiserating with the trouble Mr McCarthy and his family are suffering. If any of these criminals (whether mere thieves, or something more nasty) is caught and convicted, I expect our Judges to deliver a strong, warning, sentence. This should, I hope, deal with the problem, rather than ( but if it is necessary, so be it) special security measures.
    The Central Planning Authority needs to get their heads out of the sand and recognise what has now become the norm in Cayman, not some outdated perception/belief of what was once our Beloved Cayman.

  5. This is a crying shame for George and his family. I would however suggest low visability cameras be installed around the house and that neighbours be encouraged to form a community watch and also put up cameras. Hopefully with that,the car type and model and plates or the people themselves can cause a positive identification to be made. Regular police patrols might also help.

    The suggestion of full time bodyguards paid for by the public will be very expensive. While no one is perfectly safe and this is a shame – what about other senior civil servants before him and after him? what about politicians current, prior and subsequent? Once you set a prescedentthey will all expect the same treatment.

    Can u see where this would lead? oh yeah – One giant national unwarranted and ongoing expense!!!!

  6. I split my time between Grand Cayman and Texas. In Texas this kind of thing isn’t a problem. About 95% of all homes are armed and criminals–dumb as they may be–know this and seldom risk their lives for a few freebies.

  7. Perhaps this oft cited 15 year old Development plan needs to be updated to reflect today’s residential safety concerns. How many tourists visit the residential neighborhoods anyway?
    Also, I think using motion detectors on outdoor lights is a much better than leaving lights on all night. Saves on electrical and surprises the intruders.

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