Rash of residential burglaries also reported throughout island
Four robberies, including three in high-profile tourism areas on Grand Cayman, occurred between Sunday and Thursday of last week.
Two of the robberies involved popular restaurants, one on the George Town waterfront, another along the southern end of the Seven Mile Beach area. Coconut Joe’s, located across the street from the Comfort Suites and Marriott Beach Resort, is one of the longest-serving eateries in the area and – according to workers there – had never experienced anything like it.
“We’ve never been robbed like that before,” said manager Fiona Macfarlane. “Hopefully something like this does not happen again.”
Meanwhile, about a dozen daylight burglaries were reported from West Bay to Bodden Town last week between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., with most occurring in homes while residents were out at work. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said there did not appear to be any connection in the break-ins.
“The burglaries seem localized,” said RCIPS Superintendent Adrian Seales.
There was also an attempted robbery on Shedden Road around 2 a.m. Sunday morning, when a man armed with a machete approached three people at what police described as a “social event” and tried to rob one of them. Police were called and arrested a 27-year-old George Town man on suspicion of attempted robbery. The man who was the intended victim suffered a heart attack shortly afterwards and was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital and then to Health City. Police said he was in stable condition on Sunday.
The first half of 2014 had seen a slightly downward trend in robberies and burglaries, but there has been a spike in those types of crimes in recent months.
The recent spate of armed robberies, burglaries and break-ins led Chamber of Commerce President Johann Moxam to demand authorities take stronger action on crime, which he said is now being viewed by some as “the new normal.”
Eight customers and four staff members were held up by two gunmen late Thursday night at Coconut Joe’s. Two men with shirts covering their heads and carrying “dark hand guns” entered through the rear of the business on West Bay Road around 11:30 p.m.
The men went through the kitchen and appeared out front demanding cash from the employee working the register. Police said the suspects then threatened customers with the weapons.
Restaurant staff said about eight customers were at the bar, a mix of tourists and locals. Several had cash, wallets and jewelry taken from them. There were also four employees in the restaurant at the time.
“I don’t know if all the customers were actually robbed, but some were,” said Ms. Macfarlane. “Everybody did what they should do, just step back let [the robbers] do what they came to do.”
No one was hurt in the holdup and no arrests were immediately reported.
Thursday’s robbery was at least the fourth to occur since Sunday, Oct. 12, in George Town and was the third reported in well-traveled tourism areas of the district.
Late Sunday, a man walking along the street on West Bay Road was held up by a machete-wielding man. That robbery also happened just before midnight and was reported at 11:53 p.m.
The next night, Da Fish Shack restaurant on North Church Street was robbed by armed men. A customer was also robbed in that incident which occurred at 10:56 p.m. Monday.
In the predawn hours of Thursday, a man sitting in his car off Walkers Road was robbed of a cell phone by two armed suspects.
RCIPS officers have not stated whether they believed any of the robberies were connected.
Homes, businesses burgled
A number of local restaurants along the waterfront and on the southern end of West Bay Road have experienced several break-ins since the start of the year.
Representatives of both Da Fish Shack and neighboring waterfront restaurant-bar Cayman Cabana noted break-ins had occurred. Cabana owner Luigi Moxam said his business reported five burglaries in the month of August alone.
“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.
More than a dozen burglaries were reported, mostly in residential areas, in two days last week, Tuesday and Thursday.
Eight homes were burgled Tuesday during business hours in a rash of break-ins that also included one George Town bar. All of the burglaries occurred between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
The eight residential break-ins covered an area from Prospect Drive, to Tuscany Drive to residences off the East-West Arterial Road and to Larva Drive in Bodden Town. Cash and other personal items were reported taken.
Cash and alcohol was stolen from a bar on Shedden Road Tuesday, officers said.
Two days later, three residences were broken into. One was located in George Town, one in West Bay and one in Bodden Town. Cash and jewelry were taken and again the burglars struck between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
A cash register was also stolen Thursday from a George Town bar.
Calls for service
Within the past six weeks, calls for additional on-site security services have notably increased at the Security Centre, according to company president Stuart Bostock.
Most of the on-site services for security guards have been for “5 p.m. onwards,” Mr. Bostock said, and have included businesses in George Town, West Bay Road and Savannah.
“But it wouldn’t be right to say [the increase] was only in West Bay Road and the waterfront,” he said, adding that customers in East End and Rum Point in North Side had also recently requested more security.
Burglaries had been an on-going concern for both business and residential customers for years, but the interest in robbery prevention has picked back up in recent weeks, Mr. Bostock said. With news of the Coconut Joe’s incident last Thursday, the Security Centre chief said he expected to get a few more phone calls.
“[The Coconut Joe’s] robbery is just not acceptable at all and [the crime situation] can’t be allowed to continue,” he said.
Chamber of Commerce President Mr. Moxam said Chamber members and the wider community have been victims of an increasing number of crimes involving firearms, damage to property, thefts and burglaries, with significant damage and financial loss being reported by businesses in recent months.
“The wider community and citizens are frustrated as the escalation in crime and criminal bahavior is negatively impacting everyone in the Cayman Islands,” he said in a statement to the Cayman Compass.
“While there have been some public meeting organized by the police in the districts, the overall crime prevention strategies and police [tactics that] are being pursued remain unclear to the Chamber Council and the membership. There appears to be general acceptance by some persons that this level of crime is the ‘new normal’ and as a country it appears that we are becoming desensitized to the reported increase in crime,” he said.
Calling on the government to combat the increase in crime as a priority, he said, “Where is the outrage and call for action from our elected government in order to apply pressure and hold persons accountable on behalf of the citizens, particularly when these issues impact every district? Unfortunately, we have reached the point where a visible police presence is mandatory in order to potentially deter criminal activity.”
He added, “A line in the sand must be drawn. Everyone in the system has to do their part if we are to defeat the scourge of criminal elemen
t that is growing today.”