A bold tale of wholesale theft

Mark Hennings is beyond outrage. When thieves pulled up to his Crewe Road Cayman Contractors store late Sunday night, making at least three trips to clear out 32 air-conditioning units, a dozen people saw them. 

No one called the police. No one called him at home. No one intervened. Now, at least $20,000 out of pocket, he can only splutter at the lack of law enforcement interest in the problem. He has been burgled at least three times, each worse than the last. As far as he can tell, little has been done. 

Mr. Hennings has owned Cayman Contractors for 18 years, and been in the metal and contracting business for 20 years. His story is only the latest, but 
indicates that thieves are bolder, better equipped and confident. 

“Apparently, they have no fear of the police. They were here for an hour and loaded their vehicle at least three times. It wasn’t a big vehicle, but the stuff would have filled half of a 20-foot container.” 

In the aftermath of the event, he said, three people had reported to him that two of the thieves were perched in the rear of the small truck, holding the stolen units, while at least one more occupied the cab. 

“They probably started about 10pm,” Mr. Hennings said, “and left about 1am.” The culprits took 32 air-conditioning systems during the course of the 16 June caper. Mr. Hennings valued the equipment between $18,000 and $20,000. 

He thought it unlikely they would turn the haul into scrap because “they can sell it for a good price. They will try to flog this stuff. The mini-split [air-conditioning unit], for example, is a good piece of equipment. It retails for about $400, and they can sell it for $200, maybe $300”. 

While Mr. Hennings wondered about the police, he was less critical of law enforcement than of lawmakers. 

“I don’t know where the police were. They are supposed to provide law and order, and I’m a little surprised that in an island this small, the crime has not been solved. I don’t blame them, really, though. They are pressed to look after a lot.  

“Legislation,” however, “doesn’t exist,” he said with palpable frustration. “Even those little gold shops where they buy anything you bring in to them, have pieces of paper, receipts. It’s a little different, but there are some sort of forms.” 

Mr. Hennings is not alone in his concerns for legislation, the need for which has become a groundswell among contractors and traders. Calls for “a paper trail” of vouchers, receipts, bills of lading, transport slips, even the mandatory use of chequebooks to avoid untraceable cash payments have been suggested. 

He was unable to say why no one who had witnessed the crime-in-progress had notified police, saying only “people mind their own business, you know. They don’t want to get involved or risk anything”. 

The thieves themselves, he said, are no strangers, but “young Caymanian men who have failed out of school, never worked in their lives, second-generation Caymanians who have never wanted to work. 

“They are not Jamaicans,” he said, insisting on countering opinion determined to shift blame. “Jamaicans come here to work and to work hard. It’s not them.”

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8 COMMENTS

  1. And where is Mark Henning’s from may I ask?
    Let me quote his final paragraph They are not Jamaicans he said, insisting on countering opinion determined to shift blame. Jamaicans come here to work and to work hard. It’s not them.
    Well that statement definitely rules out Jamaicans Now Messrs Police Officers and private citizens who apparently saw something. Tell me why no one is talking. Hennings said that a dozen people saw them. Really, a dozen people saw them unloading, and not EVEN ONE of them took a license plate number from the truck or thought to call the police or the number on the building. Well kiss mi granny big toe, open the faucet again.

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  2. Well it’s looks like you know exactly who did it.wow you even know their second-generation caymanians I am surprised that you don’t have a house number for them.my point is they’r good and bad in every country but when you make a statement like that you better have the evidence to back it up.

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  3. Mr. Hennings is from Trinidad, but has been here forever.

    Sorry for your loss sir, but unless you saw them yourself, or spoke to them yourself, you have NO IDEA who they are. So let’s not include nor exclude any nationality until whomever is responsible has been caught.

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  4. If sufficiently brazen, relaxed and confident, people simply assume the theives to be bona-fide staff working late – big office AC install with dedicated minions pulling an all nighter to get the job done before the customer re-opens in the morning. This is Cayman, low crime rates condition people to expect the best from their neighbors…

    Did Mr Hennings protect his business with CCTV cameras and alarms – without the alarm wailing no-one thinks anything unusual is happening, the chance of police happening by on a routine patrol without that sort of alert is too low.

    Modern cameras can operate in pitch darkness and be hidden in all manner of everyday objects – they can be linked wirelessly to the internet and the camera’s can actually generate an alarm condition if they ‘see’ movement or are ‘disabled’. on site CCTV forces criminals to act suspiciously (Hoodies, caps pulled down and dark glasses at night) and people skulking around gets public attention.

    A friend of mine is a police officer and says the best part of his job is when the suspect they’ve been after for many crimes gets caught on a hidden camera leaving indisputable evidence.

    Modern Cell phones with cameras can also be a valuable tool – some juristictions have amended rules to allow those pictures as evidence and have sites where the pictures can be sent in real time and pay a reward for convictions resulting from them without the witness needing to testify.

    I do agree that if the black market can be targetted then there is no value to the stolen goods, careful vetting of containers leaving the island is clearly the major area to be focussed on.

    On island there could be a scheme where major appliances come with a Serial Numbered voucher to be returned to customs for a cash refund once installed – that would ensure the companies offering the goods were the ones who imported them.

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  5. Personally, I’m glad to see Mr Hennings point the finger at Caymanians. The first instinct here is to always blame the expats. Caymanians must have business cards pre-printed that say It’s the expats’ fault, that’s how often the blame is placed on them. And he’s right — the Jamaicans who come to the island work hard. Caymanians need to take a good, hard, honest look in the mirror and see if they’ve instilled hard work and honesty as values in the next Cayman generation. I can give you hint what the answer is.

    As for the police, I feel his pain with their ineffectiveness. In my six years of living in Cayman, I’ve had two cars stolen, and a scooter stolen twice. Each time I’d tell the police and their response was along the lines of It’s long gone now or it’s just some local kids having fun (the second response was each time the scooter was stolen). They were right about the scooter — both times it was recovered after it ran out of gas and the local kids abandoned it. Of course, there was no effort made to catch these local kids. One of my cars was recoveed as well. I asked the police what was next (for example, stake out the car for when someone returned for it), and there response was nothing is next — you got the car back so the case is closed. They had no interest in actually catching the criminals. I was grateful for their efforts in recovering the car, but shocked that in each occurrence they didn’t actually want to catch the people doing the stealing. It’s a shameful attitude, not appropriate for law enforcement.

    On a separate note, is Tad Stoner this journalist’s real name? Is the next article going to be written by Mike Hunt?

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  6. Funny to me seeing people say that Mr Hennings should have proof to back up his statement. No one ever has proof when the first finger is pointed at ex-pats.

    I agree that there’s no proof here, and no one can know for sure who the culprits are. And they may not be Caymanians. But they may. I just found it refreshing that the finger wasn’t first pointed at ex-pats, as it usually is.

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