From the start of 2012, it appeared two back-to-back record setting years for robberies in the Cayman Islands were at an end.
There had been just eight such incidents between January and March of this year, putting the territory on a trend that would have seen about half the robberies in 2012 than it had seen during each of the past two years.
Between January and March 2012, there were eight robberies reported in the Cayman Islands, according to Royal Cayman Islands Police Service statistics. Compare that with 24 robberies reported during the same period of 2011.
Then armed suspects struck four times within a week. All of the incidents involved cash being taken from local businesses.
“After a short period of reprieve, local businesses are once again faced with the need to consider stricter security measures to protect their staff, property and assets,” read a statement from the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce issued Friday. “These types of crime not only have a direct effect on morale within the community, they also affect how we are viewed as a place to conduct business, invest and visit.”
Overall, news for crime in the Cayman Islands was positive during the first quarter of 2012. Violent crime dropped by nearly 5 per cent from the year before, while total crime dropped by nearly 12 per cent, according to police reports.
The only serious increases in violent crime occurred in the areas of serious assaults, reports of which went from three in the first quarter of 2011, to eight in the first quarter of this year; and rapes, which rose from one report to eight reports during the same period.
Burglary, which accounted for roughly 75 per cent of all crime reports in the Cayman Islands so far in 2012, stayed about the same from year-to-year.
However, police noted that officers on the beat have seen a spate of burglaries recently and were concerned about the uptick.
“Burglars can, and will, strike at all times of the day or night – that’s why we need you, the public, to take all necessary steps to make your home/business secure,” said RCIPS Chief Inspector Frank Owens. “If a burglar has the choice of two properties, one with security or locked windows and doors, or another without such measures, he or she will take the easy option.”
Thursday night around 10pm, the Eastern Avenue Texaco station was held up, according to police reports.
According to RCIPS Chief Inspector Robert Scotland: “The call … advised that the gas station was being robbed by a person who was armed with what was believed to be a firearm. Police responded, however, upon arrival no suspect was present.”
There were no shots fired and no one was injured during the incident.
The Eastern Avenue gas station was last robbed in September 2011 by suspects that witnesses said were wearing police jackets.
Broad daylight robberies plagued two businesses in George Town and Bodden Town on Wednesday.
A quick arrest was made in connection with the Bodden Town robbery, which involved the Cashwiz business next door to the Pirate Caves. A masked man was able to enter through the front door due to the lock malfunctioning.
“The door frame was swollen up from all the rain,” said manager Lianne Macdonald. “We usually have to buzz everybody in, but today [the door lock] wasn’t working.”
Around 1.30pm Wednesday, the lone man armed with what appeared to be a firearm and wearing a skull mask, entered the Cashwiz. CCTV video shown to the Caymanian Compass depicted the man pointing the weapon at the store manager and yelling that he wanted money and gold. After receiving an amount of money, the store manager said the man yelled again that he wanted gold and then received one item of jewellery.
Shortly after the robbery, police caught up with the suspect and arrested him. Chief Inspector Scotland hailed the arrest by unarmed officers as “heroic”.
Two hours before the Cashwiz incident, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service detectives investigated a robbery at Shop Right on Walkers Road in George Town.
About 11.35am Wednesday, police said a man, who had his head covered with a large yellow cloth, entered the Shop Right store. Police said he threatened staff with a knife and demanded cash.
The man left the store with a sum of money and a small quantity of cigarettes.
The local TV operation, WestStar, was also robbed in broad daylight on 24 May.
Three masked robbers entered the offices of WestStar Television on Thursday afternoon and held up employees in the bill payment area, according to officials with the company. Two of the three suspects had firearms, police said.
The incident happened around 3pm that Thursday. No one was hurt and no shots were fired.
The armed men did receive some money and quickly left the scene, according to police.
The station has since put out CCTV video and offered rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robbery suspects. Three men were initially arrested in connection with the 24 May robbery, but they have since been released.