A group of burglars gave Cayman’s Olympic hurdler Ronald Forbes what might be described as an added insult to his injury last week.
The 28-year-old 110-metre hurdler headed out from his father’s house in North Side district last Friday for physical therapy on his injured Achilles tendon. He departed the home on Frank Sound Road just south of the Esso petrol station around 11.30am and two hours later, got a call from his dad saying three masked men were spotted running from the house.
“They knew exactly when I was going to leave,” the younger Mr. Forbes said this week, noting his parents were at work and his younger sister was away at university for the day. “It’s always someone that watches exactly when you leave and exactly when you come back.”
Of more concern, according to Mr. Forbes, is what was taken.
The items stolen included a 14-karat men’s blue and white diamond ring and another 14-karat pinky ring with a gold Mexican peso and diamonds in it. Some antique coins were also taken by the burglars.
Mr. Forbes said similar break-ins occurred fairly recently in his neighbourhood and further south on Frank Sound Road.
“Their [modus operandi] seems to be the same,” he said. “They only take jewellery and leave thousands of dollars worth of electrical equipment, laptops, cameras … anything of any monetary value; they didn’t even touch it.”
Stolen jewellery has become something of a minor epidemic on Grand Cayman in recent years and not only in the less crowded districts like North Side.
In August 2012, former Royal Cayman Islands Police officer Derek Haines said he had “irreplaceable” jewellery stolen from his home. “We lost some jewellery that we’ve had for 40 years, right back to the first pendant I gave [my wife] in 1972,” Mr. Haines said.
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 last 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 visited a few gold and jewellery exchange businesses in town and reported the items missing just in case anyone tried to fence the goods It’s an issue that was recognised early by Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner David Baines.
He first noted a sizable increase in the number of jewellery thefts or burglaries 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. However, he said police began to notice then that jewellery was being swiped far more often in those cases – with some of the items turning 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 stolen. It is already a crime to knowingly handle stolen goods in the Cayman Islands. However, police have sought 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. No legislation has been brought before the Legislative Assembly to enact such changes, however.
Mr. Baines has said this type of legislation in the United Kingdom is not unusual. 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.