An unusual request made by police to residents in certain areas of Grand Cayman’s North Side district last week raised some suspicions.
However, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service later clarified that the request “could have been better worded” and said that they did not wish to obtain lists of property from residents because they expected it to be stolen.
According to a letter sent to certain property owners by an RCIPS neighbourhood policing officer on Wednesday, 14 November: “The RCIPS Neighbourhood Police Department is organising a survey consisting of valuable property such as electronic devices, computers, precious stones, paintings, collectable items, or other items which could be sold for fast cash. This will assist the RCIPS with investigations should they become stolen, which will provide a better success rate in recovering them.
“In order for this to be done; we are asking if everyone of you could add to the survey by e-mailing the name of owner and contact details, name or type of valuables, the serial numbers or any special markings attached to it. More importantly please provide a picture of it if available. “
According to e-mails sent in reply to the initial police request, some residents seemed taken aback. The senders of the e-mails and the properties involved are being withheld from this article for security reasons.
“We are in receipt of this e-mail from what appears to be the RCIPS, but we are not sure of its legitimacy and wonder if this might be a hacker trying to get information about contents in the homes in the area,” one individual wrote. “To prepare lists of valuable items and send them out to anyone seems dubious to me.”
Another property owner wrote: “I strongly recommend that if it is a legitimate request from the RCIPS and members are minded to respond, that such information is not e-mailed but is contained in a letter to the police.”
RCIPS Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks said it often does make it easier for police officers seeking to recover stolen property to have photos and the serial number attached to such items.
“If you have three TVs recovered and they all look roughly the same, police may not be able to identify which one belongs to which resident,” Mr. Ebanks said.
In any case, Mr. Ebanks said there is no reason for police to have a list of those items before a burglary or robbery has occurred.
“The intention was to inform the property owners and managers to properly identify their items … any jewellery, electronics and have it readily available to the police in the event that they were stolen,” he said.
“Most people would be sort of sceptical about sending out that information, letting people know what expensive property they have. The concern was definitely from a legitimate police officer requesting this information.”
Inspector Ebanks said thefts and burglaries in the North Side area have seen a significant increase in recent months.
“We’ve had a number of burglaries in North Side over the last several months,” he said, adding that the main targets for thieves were still electronics devices. He knew of very few cases where jewellery had been taken.