Business owners want to see a change in the current trend
Robbery is quickly becoming a part of the high cost of doing business in the Cayman Islands, with some businesses being victimised on a continuous basis and others even having to take extreme measures short of actually closing their doors.
Of the businesses that have taken a trouncing at the hands of burglars, Reflections has been one of the worst affected. The store has been robbed at least 10 times, with a whopping seven robberies in 18 months during 2011.
Reflections Store Owner Prentice Panton has been vocal about the affects the incidents have had on his business and how he has tried to protect his businesses against the robberies.
But, he said it was a situation that would be difficult to remedy as the security officers in the stores could be seen on CCTV footage running for cover.
Other businesses owners such as Tony Crescente of Cassanova by the Sea noted that robberies in Cayman were like a, “serious cancer”. “It needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed fast.
“It is too late to fight this with a stick,” he said, adding that unarmed security guards could not be expected to risk their lives when faced with gunmen and that they should be allowed to be armed.
He also called for armed fast response police officers to patrol George Town and other areas where businesses operate rather than needing to unlock police arms from storage in response to robberies. “Put armed police on the road in every district, or in every business district,” he urged.
Harry Lalli, who owns several businesses on Grand Cayman, expressed similar concerns. He said several restaurants employ security guards in their car parks, but he did not want to see a situation where restaurants would have to hire security staff for inside their premises.
“I’m hoping it does not come to that point. If you have guards inside the premises or at the door of a restaurant, it is going to make the tourism product go down,” he said. “One of our biggest selling points for people coming to Grand Cayman is the safety,” he said.
In conversations with the Caymanian Compass, Stuart Bostock, president and CEO of The Security Centre, noted that he gets a couple of requests a year from business owners who want to find out if security guards he hires out could be armed, but said most clients understood that Cayman’s strict gun laws mean this is not an option.
“Quite frankly, I’m not convinced that arming security guards would reduce the number of robberies, but it might increase the amount of violence,” Mr. Bostock said.
He said adding “layers of security”, like bright outdoor lighting, CCTV, panic buttons and alarms, as well as training staff to know how to respond during a robbery and how to recall accurate, detailed descriptions of criminals to pass on to police would be more useful in tackling crime than arming security staff.
Things you can do to keep your business safe from crime
Install Closed Circuit Television
Ensure there is proper lighting
Hire a security guard to secure the premises
Get a K-9 guard dog Make sure to install an alarm
Be vigilant against possible weaknesses and strengths in combating crime
Do not leave safes lying around or cash in plain sight
Always have a contingency plan in the event of an incident of robbery
Choose a location that is a low crime area