Petty offenses drive up crime rate

Break-ins reported at Ragazzi and Lauren’s restaurants

 

The Cayman Islands overall crime rate increased by nearly 28 percent during the first six months of this year.  

Reports of burglaries – which have plagued the Caribbean territory over the past two years – were not the reason for the crime spike. In fact, serious crime reports – including break-ins – actually declined slightly between January and June 2014 when compared to the same period last year.  

But that doesn’t mean the burglary problem for Cayman has gone away. Late Thursday or early Friday, two more businesses along the Seven Mile Beach strip joined the long list of Cayman’s burglary targets. 

Thieves smashed windows and broke into Ragazzi restaurant and Lauren’s Cafe in Buckingham Square on West Bay Road. They also smashed a window of Century 21 but did not enter the real estate office, police said.  

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Royal Cayman Islands Police Service chief inspector Raymond Christian said the police were investigating these break-ins, as well as a number of residential burglaries the same night. 

Theft  

The main driver for the crime rate increase, according to statistics released by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service last week, involved petty thefts, damage to property and threats of violence.  

A nebulous category of “other crime” in the statistics – undefined by police – also increased by about two-thirds when comparing the first half of 2014 to the first six months of 2013.  

According to the police records, theft offenses increased by 80 percent during the first six months of 2014, going from 237 thefts reported in the first half of 2013 to 427 in 2014. Damage to property offenses increased from 152 to 234 during the same period.  

Allegations of threats of violence increased from 60 reports last year to 72 this year, while minor assaults and reports of domestic violence fell slightly. Typically, those last two types of crime are family-related and often go unreported when they occur.  

Break-ins  

Although the number of burglaries reported in the first half of 2014 fell when compared to the same period last year, the overall number of break-ins remains stubbornly high.  

There were 262 burglaries reported in the Cayman Islands between January and June of this year, compared to 281 during the same period last year. That’s only a seven percent decrease from year-to-year. If burglaries keep occurring at the same rate, Cayman will still have more than 500 break-ins reported for the year by the end of December.  

Attempted burglaries increased from 15 reports to 28 during the same period.  

Ragazzi manager Erno Virag said staff arrived at the restaurant Friday morning to find liquor and cash stolen from the premises. Mr. Virag said the amount of cash and value of the liquor had not yet been determined. 

“It’s happened before, unfortunately, in the building but it was a different way of entering,” he said. “It was pure luck for them that the alarm didn’t go off when they came through the window.” 

Lauren’s Cafe owner Link Bennett said perpetrators had smashed the back window to enter but had not stolen anything. He said thieves had broken into the premises within the last 12 months and had stolen a television and small appliances. 

“There’s really nothing for them to steal, we don’t keep cash on the premises,” Mr. Bennett said. “They didn’t do their homework.” 

By the numbers  

Police Commissioner David Baines said in March that the burglary increase seen during 2013 had been stemmed following an early spike. He said he hoped the trend would be reversed during the rest of 2014, as appears to have occurred so far.  

The commissioner pointed to certain criminal justice and societal problems earlier in the year that he said Cayman must address to contain burglaries and other serious crimes.  

“We … have to accept that there a number of other contributing factors to the issue,” Mr. Baines said. “The economic downturn; people are looking to make a quick buck by stealing portable items like flat screen TVs, tablets, smartphones, cash and jewelry.  

“We all have to admit that it’s now a reality that people can no longer leave their doors and windows open without fear of opportunists entering their property and stealing their electronics, cash and other valuables.”  

There were other notable increases and decreases in serious crimes reported to the RCIPS during the first six months of this year.  

Robbery reports dropped from 16 to 11, while wounding cases jumped from 10 during the first half of 2013 to 19 through June of this year.  

There were five attempted murder cases through June reported by police, with just one such case being reported during the same time last year. Serious assault reports fell from seven to three, year on year.  

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