The value of jewellery taken during recent thefts and break-ins at some South Sound homes in Grand Cayman isn’t exactly known.
A few of the homeowners are still taking stock of what they lost during the past month or so.
But to former police officer Derek Haines, what he’s lost is mostly irreplaceable.
“My wife is going through the monetary value of the jewellery right now, but really that’s neither here nor there,” Mr. Haines said. “We lost some jewellery that we’ve had for 40 years, right back to the first pendant I gave her in 1972.”
Mr. Haines said his home in Cayman Crossing wasn’t actually broken into. Rather, he suspects it to be a an “inside job” by someone connected to one of the contractors he’s had doing work in his home recently.
Charlie Adams, who lives just down the road from Mr. Haines, did have his home on Mary Read Crescent broken into on 18 August.
Mr. Adams believes someone was watching the place, because his wife had just left for a few hours on a Saturday when he wasn’t at home. When she came back, jewellery and some other items missing.
“She’d just gone out and came back to find the place burgled,” Mr. Adams said. “What would have happened if she came back to find the burglars?”
Mr. Adams also laments the loss of some items that he cannot now replace.
“The thing that really hurts are the pieces that have some sentimental value,” he said. “There was a piece that my mother handed down to my daughter. You can’t get that back.”
Both incidents, along with some others recently in the South Sound area, were reported to police.
Mr. Haines said he had gone to a few gold and jewellery exchange businesses in town and reported the items missing just in case anyone tried to fence the goods.
Since 2010, the Caymanian Compass has been reporting a sizable increase in the number of jewellery thefts or burglaries where jewellery has been taken.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner David Baines first noted the increase during the last half of 2010. Mr. Baines said in January 2011 that small electronic devices, like cell phones and laptops, are still considered a prime catch for thieves and burglars. But he said police are beginning to notice jewellery being swiped far more often in those cases – some of which turned up in second-hand stores.
He wouldn’t name any of the stores involved and said, in many cases they might not even realise the property they are buying is hot.
It is already a crime to knowingly handle stolen goods in the Cayman Islands. However, the police are seeking to require those shops to produce records to investigating officers upon demand and to create a seven-day waiting period for businesses before they can dispose of or melt down jewellery they buy from customers.
Mr. Baines said this type of legislation in the United Kingdom is not unusual.
“Even scrap yards in other jurisdictions … require that you maintain a log of what it was you received, the date you received it, the vehicle that delivered it, the person and their identity of what was delivered,” he said.
Such laws can be a deterrent to those who seek to sell off stolen property, but Mr. Baines said they can also protect the businesses from inadvertently breaking the law.