Security warning issued after surge in local armed robberies

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. 

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11 COMMENTS

  1. This crime wave is a much bigger deal than most people realize.
    Once word gets out that we have such a serious crime problem the tourists will stop coming.
    There are plenty of other pretty islands with nice beaches to go to; people don’t need to come here.

    Once this happens tourism tax income will plummet, so will work permit fee income from the ex-pats who will no longer be needed to work in the hotels and restaurants. Not to mention the car rental agencies.

    And all those departed ex-pats will no longer need somewhere to rent. No will they need to buy groceries or have local cell phones.

    Less cars will be driven and there will be a big surplus of used cars.
    Less cars will mean less gasoline sold and less fuel excise revenue.

    Time for the government to forget how things used to be and adapt to today’s conditions.
    Arm the police and allow them to shoot criminals while committing crimes.
    Beef up the evidence procedure to look for DNA evidence etc. left at the secene of the crime.

    Provide serious rewards for informers, say 100,000 dollars, and allow them to give evidence anonymously so they won’t be scared of revenge attacks.

    And put anyone convicted of crimes with weapons away for 20-30 years with no parole.

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  2. What Norman said is very true.

    I hope the people doing this are aware of what most people think of them. If not, could a literate person who knows them read this out to them…

    Robbing gas stations and convenience stores is not cool, macho, tough or profitable.

    Shooting bullets when kids are around is seriously uncool.

    Please go and buy Grand Theft Auto 5, and do that stupid stuff there.

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  3. I am afraid that Cayman has now passed the point of no return. It is now international news that crime is out of control in Cayman, read the new ads on Trip Advisor. I think this is just the beginning of the end. It’s a shame that people come together so much to fight things like new developments and road closures but seem to condone criminal activity in their own backyard. I’ve seen not one march or rally against crime, not one neighborhood watch. All people like to do complain about things like Expat Labor taking jobs that they don’t even apply for or some developer trying to fix a growing dump issue that they ignore and is the biggest threat to the ecosystem than anything else while their children run around the street robbing and stealing. What a waste of energy and self destruction of a people. It saddens me to have witnessed this all over the past 10 years. My, how things have changed in such a short time.

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  4. Thank you Jenny.
    I have lived in Grand Cayman for over 30 years.

    This is our home.

    We need to defend it from the scum who would take it from us. Who would destroy this paradise for all of us for the sake of a few hundred dollars in cash.

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  5. SOOOOOOOOOOO the crime beat goes on here. What a shame. This island deserves better in so many ways and the inhabitants even more. The citizens here are always paying the price for an incompetent police force. A force adept at spreading the miserable finger print powder at a crime scene, but helpless to find the perps. most often. The homeowners always pay the price sometimes with their lives. Police here don’t have the intestinal fortitude to do the dirty work. Bring in outside authorities from the U.S. for training. And arm the cops with weapons.

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  6. 4 years ago, I resolved a robbery that happened in my office. Backed with videos and motif, I layed it all down to the detectives. Nothing happened, not even interviews with suspects. Lately, I saw in this paper, the name of one of my suspect which seems to have moved to more dangerous crimes. Who’s policing the police?

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  7. Norman has Nailed it, It’s a perception issue and the tourist dollar is fickle.

    About a decade ago I was working for a dive shop at the other end of the Caribbean. The owner went across to the US Virgin Islands and was able to buy over 100,000 worth of dive shop gear from 3 closed down shops for under 10c on the dollar. They had a minor crime wave, tourists stopped going, the entire economy collapsed within a season. The problem persists in peoples memory much longer and even if it were solved in 6 months, people would remember the bad rather than the good.

    The tourist economy here could be destroyed overnight by one act of senseless violence, a tourist being shot while being robbed, and it would take a decade to get those customers back…

    Even little things like everyone having Burglar Bars on the windows may reduce crime but might ‘concern’ tourists and portray an exaggerated image of lawlessness which doesn’t reflect the reality.

    On the other hand, there’s the policemen in Georgetown, mirror shined shoes and crisply pressed uniforms, No Gun but a big smile. They do so much good for the safe, friendly image of Cayman, they could get a second salary from the department of tourism!

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  8. Mr. Gray

    Your comments here are very confusing…and seemingly contradictory.

    What exactly are you trying to say ?

    Crime in Cayman is a total societal problem and one that impacts the local population much more than the tourist/visitor population.

    Agreed, crimes committed against tourists has a major negative effect on Cayman’s image and reputation but…

    If the locals need to put up burglar bars…

    And Cayman’s police need to be actual police and not ‘shiny’ tourist advertisements…

    These might be the things that will re-establish that tarnished reputation in the eyes of the tourist.

    You cannot have your cake and eat it too…

    Most tourists would rather know that they are coming to a safe place, rather than one that ‘pretends’ or ‘appears’ to be safe…

    And burglar bars and effective, professional police officers are geared to make any place safer.

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  9. Mr Tatum,

    The point I (And I believe Norman) was making is that we cannot ignore how tourists see Cayman, and how badly the economy will be impacted if this rash of incidents isn’t dealt with both swiftly and delicately.

    Yes, we could have a Para-military police officer on every corner..
    A pseudo-stormtrooper decked out with helmet, cammo, bullet proof vest and an SA80 machine gun – surely that would prevent some crime BUT, it is in direct conflict with the picture postcard caribbean dream which tourists come expecting to find.

    If what they see jars with their preconceptions then that could ruin their holiday experience and the world today is very small – social networking can propagate stories and opinions at the speed of light – a million bad ‘tweets’ could do as much to damage the islands economy as a hurricane.

    In the context of perception, it doesn’t matter that the reality of cayman crime does not normally affect the visitor,
    It is AS important that the tourist FEELS safe as actually BEING safe.

    Remember the tourist isn’t making a choice between ‘Cayman’ and ‘Staying Home’. They have a budget (which the economy NEEDS) and an array of choices;- If (for whatever reason) 10% of them decide in 2014 that they’ll go somewhere else, how will that affect the economy here?

    I wonder how shocked people will be to find out that Cayman is now ranked worse than the USA and 61 other contries for Gun Related homicides coming in at 63rd place out of 76 countries! OK so a statistical blip (Cayman was set to be in the top 4 as of last month)
    Still, its 2 and a half times safer than Mexico and 10 times safer than Jamaica…

    If those with information don’t come forward, that empowers the criminals and given the above perhaps the public will realise the cost of keeping quiet is far more significant to both a personal and national incomes.

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  10. Mr. Gray

    Everything that you say here is true but…

    The reality is…the bad tweets about the real situation are already out there.

    This Cayman ‘crime cat’ is already out of the bag…the genie already out of the bottle.

    There is no ‘whitewashing’ or attempts to cover it up that will change that…and the potential tourist’s assessment of whether it will impact his/her decision to make Cayman a destination for their vacation.

    My point is that addressing the real situation…and not just a tourist perception of the situation, addresses the real problem…and makes Cayman a safer place for both tourist and resident alike.

    Your views suggest that the gravity of Cayman’s gun crime is not being taken seriously for fear of the international community being made aware of how serious the problem is becoming…or in the hope that it will go away by itself.

    Both ideas are seriously flawed.

    There are any examples you would like to choose from, eg New York City back in the 80s and 90s that was truly the crime capital of the USA…and also a tourist mecca…I worked in New York in the 90s so I’m speaking from personal experience.

    Mayor Guilliani vowed to change all that…and New York City, for the time that it took, became a very dangerous place for dangerous criminals to think that they could operate with impunity and things did changed.

    And New York again became safer for all…both resident and tourist.

    Cayman needs to do whatever is necessary to reverse this crime trend NOW before it gets any worse.

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