Chief inspector: ‘They’re stealing everything these days’
Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks urged North Side residents to make their homes as burglar-proof as possible and mark possessions most likely to be stolen.
These include laptop computers; televisions, especially flat screens; jewellery; bicycles and even lawn mowers.
“They’re stealing everything these days – anything they can sell,” he said.
Mr. Ebanks spoke Thursday night at an expo organised as an initiative between the North Side District Council and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. Lennox Vernon answered questions about 911 and Julian Lewis showed real-time CCTV from the Grand Cayman-wide camera system. Both men are officers with the Department of Public Safety Communications.
Representatives of various security companies displayed devices ranging from camera and lighting systems to sirens and window protections. Audience members visited booths before and after speaker presentations.
Mr. Ebanks told North Siders there had been two spates of burglary in their district since July. Police have met with home owners and property managers, he said, and updated them as to what measures police are taking. Several arrests have been made and a substantial amount of property has been recovered, he advised.
In one incident, people knew that no one was supposed to be home next door, Mr. Ebanks related. When something suspicious caught their attention, they phoned police. Officers attended and found items in a vehicle, which led to the arrest of an individual who has since been taken to court.
Letting a neighbour know when you are away on vacation was one tip he shared.
For marking property, he suggested etching or engraving initials, using an ultraviolet pen or tamper-proof labels. Taking photos is very useful, especially of jewellery, which can otherwise be hard to describe. Keep make, model and serial numbers of household items. They can be kept on one’s computer, “but e-mail them to yourself in case the laptop gets stolen.”
Mr. Ebanks also spoke about lighting, the need to secure ladders and not leave them laying around for a burglar’s convenience. He urged people not to leave keys in a secret spot such as under a mat or rock. Burglars will find them, he said.
If someone arrives home and has reason to think an intruder has entered, he or she should not go into the house. Call the police and let them check it, Mr. Ebanks instructed.
He assured the audience there is a reason for every question asked when someone phones in an emergency. “911 asks questions to keep you on the phone and keep you calm while [responders] are on the way,” he explained.
Mr. Vernon elaborated on that point. He said the caller is the most important person in the conversation: “You are the only one who knows what the emergency is and where it is,” he pointed out. The operator who answers the call is literally starting with a blank canvas.
911 is used most effectively when the caller remains calm and co-operates with the trained call taker. “We will ask questions – they are relevant. Allow us to ask and you answer honestly. We will get to the end more quickly,” he said.
“We do not have cell phone trackers, so we won’t know where you are,” he emphasised. Tracking systems are very expensive. But callers can help with addresses and landmarks. Everyone who lives in a house should know its address, he advised, and house numbers should be visible at night.
When a woman in the audience objected that 911 took too much time asking how to spell a name, Mr. Vernon explained that sometimes the police will want to speak to the caller when they arrive at the scene, so it is important to know who they are looking for. He emphasised that 911 asks only the caller’s name and did not use patients’ names over the radio.
Mr. Vernon urged bystanders not to move injured persons, except to get them away from further harm. The typical reaction in Cayman is to put the person in a vehicle and drive him or her to the hospital. “While you are driving, they are not getting any aid. When the ambulance comes, they are getting care all the way to the hospital,” he said.
Mr. Lewis discussed the closed circuit television camera system, noting there are now 224 cameras in the five districts of Grand Cayman. The cameras “expand the eyes of the state to keep people safe,” he said in summarising the placement process. Police had identified certain “hot spots” around the Island and the Human Rights Commission had been consulted.
Some cameras are Number Plate Readers, meaning they can focus on a vehicle’s licence plate. Camera capabilities include tilt-zoom and low-light infrared. There are 64 cameras in the Eastern Districts, from Savannah to East End. North side has 16 cameras, strategically placed, he revealed.
Mr. Lewis said images are stored for 60 days and are high-definition.
There have been close to 200 requests for footage in a year, he said, calling that number remarkable in a community this size. It normally takes three days to turn around a request.
Wesley Howell, deputy chief officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, said cameras did not get extra funding in the government budget this year, but there would be lobbying for it next year.
North Side Community Officer Bill McLaughlin spoke about neighbourhood policing and encouraged interaction between neighbours.
District council member Edna Moyle contributed to the question sessions and chairman Stanley Panton gave the vote of thanks.
Mr. Lewis discussed the closed circuit television camera system, noting there are now 224 cameras in the five districts of Grand Cayman.