Video store and bar the latest businesses hit at closing time Monday
Business owners are being warned to take extra security measures after a spate of armed robberies, including two more raids overnight on Monday.
The Video Centre in Savannah Plaza and the Meringue Town bar in George Town were the latest businesses to be targeted in an alarming series of hold-ups involving masked gunmen.
The two raids follow an armed robbery at a West Bay grocery store on Saturday, during which a shot was fired and a 6-year-old boy injured.
Police believe business owners returning home with their daily takings have also been the target of five late night “doorstep robberies” in the past few months.
They are warning entrepreneurs not to take cash home with them and to take extra security measures, including checking they are not being followed.
The doorstep raids, along with four armed robberies in Grand Cayman in the past 10 days, have contributed to increased community concern over a rise in violent crime.
Chief Inspector Harlan Powery of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service accepted that the robberies, including Saturday’s raid at Vidette’s grocery store just yards from the West Bay police station, were troubling.
He said, “Both the frequency of firearms being used to commit crimes throughout the island and the increasing brazenness of the criminal element are a source of concern for both law abiding citizens and the police.”
Monday night’s raids were not immediately linked by investigators. In the first incident, a teenage staff member was locking up the Video Centre store at around 10 p.m. when he was confronted by a masked gunman, who demanded cash. The gunman grabbed a bag from the boy, which didn’t contain cash, and ran off.
The Meringue Town bar was later targeted, also at around closing time, 12:30 a.m. This time there were two robbers, one carrying a gun, the other wielding a machete. They made off with cash.
Chief Superintendent Kurt Walton said police were operating “high visibility” patrols around commercial premises.
He said store owners and independent entrepreneurs should take extra security measures to protect themselves and their businesses.
He said five recent doorstep hold-ups had all targeted businessmen believed to be carrying home cash takings.
He added, “The profile of the victim in each of these five cases lead us to believe that these types of crimes are targeted on business people who, due to the very nature of their business, will arrive home at odd hours of the night.
“It is very likely that the offenders knew the victim in each case were entrepreneurs and are of the opinion the daily cash takings from their business would be taken home at the end of the night.”
Police have issued a list of tips to businessmen, including the warning, “Whilst on the way home after close of business at odd hours of the night, check your rear view mirror every few minutes or so to make sure you are not being followed home.”
They are urging anyone who feels they are being followed or who spots anything unusual not to go home as normal, but to call the police. Anyone confronted by armed robbers should not resist to protect their takings, Mr. Walton said.
He said store owners, too, should review security measures in light of armed raids at Chisholm’s in North Side and Vidette’s in West Bay in the past two weeks. The two robberies are not being linked.
Four men are in custody charged with the Chisholm’s holdup while police are still on the lookout for the two men suspected of the robbery in West Bay on Saturday.
“It is clear that both premises were targeted. We would ask business owners to review their security arrangements, ensure that their CCTV is working and that cameras are properly sighted.
“We would also encourage them to call us if they see anyone acting suspiciously,” Mr. Walton said.
A community crime prevention seminar, targeted at commercial and tourist businesses, will be held at the Westin Grand Cayman on Thursday and will address issues including security technology, financial crime prevention and personal security.
Jane van der Bol, of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, which has been involved with organizing the event, said: “We are anticipating 150 participants and the target audience is mainly commercial and tourism players; we are also inviting communities from across the islands to send representatives of their respective community groups.”
Recent armed robberies
Oct. 1: The Meringue Town bar is held up by two men, one carrying a gun, the other wielding a machete, as staff prepare to close around 12:30 a.m.
Sept. 30: A 17-year-old is held up by a gunman outside Video Centre in the Savannah Plaza, at closing time, around 10 p.m.
Sept. 28: A six-year-old child is injured after a shot is fired during a robbery at Vidette’s grocery store in West Bay at closing time, around 9:15 p.m.
Sept. 23: Four men with guns raid Chisholm’s grocery store in North Side, making off with cash and cigarettes. Four suspects are caught later the same day after a chase involving the police helicopter.
Sept. 20: A couple report to police that they are robbed of cash and a cell phone by two men, one carrying a gun, at Smith Cove around 9.30 p.m.
Aug. 29: A Treasure Island staff member is robbed of cash by two men, both carrying guns, in the lobby area of the resort.
Aug. 28: Four gunmen in camouflage clothing raid a private home in Savannah, making off with jewelry and cash.