Armed robberies in tourism district

An armed robbery of a George Town waterfront bar-restaurant and another robbery at the southern end of West Bay Road have been reported this week, accentuating ongoing problems with crime businesses in one of Cayman’s major tourism districts have reported since the beginning of the year.

On Monday night, two masked armed robbers walked into Da Fish Shack on North Church Street while it was still open and demanded cash.

The two suspects made off with the cash register and held up a bar customer for cash and cell phone before making off. A bar employee also had a cell phone stolen. The entire take from the robbery was estimated at $600. No one was hurt.

Da Fish Shack co-owner Ian Wight said Monday’s holdup was the first robbery to occur at the waterfront eatery this year, but he noted the place has been hit be burglars several times since January.

“This one guy broke in twice, I think a police officer caught him by hiding in the bushes [outside the restaurant],” Mr. Wight said. “But it’s a bit more serious when you’ve got [robbers] going into your place.”

Just up the road on Sunday night, a man walking down West Bay Road near Andy’s Rent-A-Car was robbed by a machete-wielding suspect who took his leather wallet. The victim, a resident of the Cayman Islands, was not hurt.

Close by Da Fish Shack on North Church Street is Cayman Cabana, another outside eatery and bar which has not experienced a robbery in 2014.

However, owner Luigi Moxam says his business has been broken into nine times since the beginning of the year, including five times in the month of August, all of them allegedly by the same suspect.

“He’s been arrested now,” Mr. Moxam said. “We don’t leave any cash in the place after closing, but people were coming in and damaging the coolers. We used to keep beers in there.”

The recent spate of crimes has, to a certain extent, forced the Cabana to close earlier than Mr. Moxam would like it, particularly in the low tourism season.

“[A robbery occurred] at Rackam’s and now its happened at the Shack,” he said, noting Cabana might have been chosen for Monday night’s robbery if it hadn’t closed down at 9 p.m.

“It’s not necessarily a bad area, but [crime] is a part of the day-to-day concern. It’s already a struggle for us to generate some interest to come into George Town [at night] and things like this don’t help,” Mr. Moxam said.

According to Royal Cayman Islands Police records, the Cayman Islands overall crime rate increased by nearly 28 percent during the first six months of this year.

Reports of burglaries and robberies – 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.

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.

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.

1 COMMENT

  1. The tourism product in Cayman will be destroyed by this type of crime within the next five to ten years.

    The police in Cayman are not capable of protecting the citizens and can mostly only function as a reactionary force. Despite this, the authorities refuse to allow people to legally protect themselves and would seem to be happy leaving people defenseless against violent criminals.

  2. This has been common practice every year for the past ten years or more. The safest thing for businesses to do is to keep alert and observe. Most times people do not just walk in and rob, they check out the places first by coming inside or staying outside. It is coming up to Christmas time soon and we be robbed if we are not careful. Do not go out to dinner alone or leave alone. Do not shop alone at nights. Do not work late and go to you car alone at nights. Many things are causing this, but I guess we just have to change the way we lived.

  3. Right now, the criminals know that Cayman’s police response to crime is slow, ineffective and will likely not result in any reprocussions. Until Cayman puts into place the policies and procedures which truly crack down on criminals and criminal behavior, this will continue to happen. Let the store owners arm themselves, install closed cirut monitoring systems and take action when these types of crimes occur. If the criminals know there will be sever punishment enacted on them if they engage in this type of behavior – at least some of them will think twice before they commit the crime.

  4. Allow me to share with you the story of a city, Mexico City, that had all the problems omnipresent in big cities, and where the laissez faire take on crime proved to be a very costly mistake.

    By the late 80s, such city started to allow the crime. Some blame political transition to a less authoritarian society, others the post-1985 earthquake scene, others certain geopolitical shifts, not excluding those that interest organised crime. In reality, impunity due to the failure of local preventive systems can always be excused with chicanery of all sorts.

    Up to then, the crime was tolerable. Law enforcement was harsh and you were afraid even to speed in front of a police car. Police was fearsome, and you did not want to come across their path.

    But things got relaxed, law enforcement was not feared. And petty crime started to blossom. ‘Oh, it is just petty crime, no worries!’ they said. And then, it was not that petty anymore. Simple stealing became burglary, pick pocketing became armed robbery. ‘Well, it’s just a stage, things will get better.’ And burglary became violent home invasions, and armed robbery included assault. ‘Surely things will get back to normal anytime soon.’ And the violent home invasions turned into kidnappings, and the armed robbery now included rape and, at times, also what is known as ‘express kidnapping’ (i.e. holding the victim for short periods of time for a minor ransom, and/or forcing to give the PIN and holding her for several days while her bank account was emptied by making daily withdrawals up to the debit/credit card limit).

    By the middle 90s, with all crime types all over the place and at all times of the day, with kidnappings of even cleaning ladies, masons and janitors, with insecurity levels that entirely eroded night life, politicians finally decided to do something. It took years to fight back the already brazen, bold criminals, and the success was not thorough. Things improved, yes, in regard of the dismal scene of the middle nineties, but went never back to what they were.

    Oh, that uncanny feeling of re-living history, of a daily, persistent dj vu!

  5. The problem is that Cayman is living in denial, still holding on to the Cayman of yesteryear. Another problem is that the RCIPS is foreign based so I find it hard to believe that they feel the commitment of protecting their own home. Another issue is that the home grown criminals are are being ignored by those that raised and nurtured them into the criminals they are today. And last but not least is that people are not taking it seriously, there are no groups focused on this, noone pushes it in the faces of their leaders. They are more interested in things like no dump in Bodden Town, reopening a closed road or someones gambling habit, then they are in the real cancer that’s sinking the ship.

  6. This surely is a strange country; where you can walk the streets with a machete but not a pepper spray.

    The Grand Cayman we knew and loved has gone. Unwilling to get tough on crime, we slowly drift towards the problems of Jamaica.

    How soon before the major hotels are surrounded by barbed wire fences.

    But this really won’t be an issue. Because our major selling point as a tourist resort, the reason we can justify our high prices, is safety.

    Once Grand Cayman is no safer than Acapulco or Ochos Rios there will be no reason to come here.

    Perhaps Cayman Brac and Little Cayman will benefit.

  7. Even the article above makes it clear that the crimes are committed by a relatively small number of criminals.

    Increase the resources of the Scene of Crime unit and gather proper DNA and fingerprint evidence for even ‘minor’ crimes and burglaries.

    Once they get to court, sentences run concurrently – so a burglar who commits 10 burglaries gets 10x 2 year sentences, but serves time for all at once with concurrent sentences – had he committed only 2 – the time served would be the same.

    Someone suggested that sentences should only become concurrent after the first 10% of each one has been served.
    There needs to be a deterrent in the sentences.
    We even see crimes being committed by people out on bail or even wearing monitors!

    There was a policy which was referred to as ‘broken windows’ – zero tolerance policing. Basically graffiti and antisocial behaviour were given high priority – and was found to be very successful. A youth graffiti’s a wall and gets away with it might then smash a window, next smashed window may be a car stereo theft, then joyriding a stolen car, then shoplifting, theft and burglary – it was found the pattern was much easier to break earlier on before they become a habitual criminal and the crimes themselves escalated.

  8. Grand Cayman needs to increase the number of police on foot patrol in these affected areas, George Town Harbor especially.

    Boots on the ground, surge, whatever you want to call it.

    Its effective. See the results that Mayor Guliani in NYC got.

    Just do it and don’t keep flapping your gums about it!