Armed robberies plague popular tourist venues

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.” 

Coconut Joe’s  

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 reaction 

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.” 

1 COMMENT

  1. What the manager of Coconut Joe’s and all other concerned individuals need to understand is that this type of crime will happen again and in fact will become a more common occurrence over the next few years if immediate action is not taken.

    One thing that seems to be clear to most people is the fact that the RCIPS leadership is simply not up to the task and that new leadership with new ideas and a new approach might be needed if we are going to start to get this problem under control.

    That being said, most people fully acknowledge that police action alone will not get to the root of the problem. Failed immigration policy, lax border control restrictions and enforcement, dysfunctional schools, and broken families are some of the areas that need to be addressed if we are going to get a handle on the crime problem in the long run.

    What is also of great concern is the virtual silence from many of our elected officials on these issues. Why are we hearing more about these issues from the Chamber of Commerce than we are from our political leadership? The Chamber of Commerce is a special interest group that does not represent the views of the wider society so we need our political leadership to step forward and do their part to tackle the out of control crime situation that we are faced with in the Cayman Islands.

  2. When guns are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns.

    If more business owners and employees were trained and in possession of firearms to defend themselves and others a lot of this type crime would come to a swift end.

  3. Everybody did what they should do, just step back let the robbers do what they came to do.

    He (Mr. Moxam) 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 element that is growing today.

    A quick comment on both quotes from this detailed article.

    First of all…this is the standard response encouraged and expected…do nothing to endanger life and limb any further and give them what they want.

    For the average untrained and unskilled and inexperienced civilian, it is the safest route to go but…

    There is absolutely no doubt that this attitude drives and encourages this scourge to continue.

    In the UK, a 71-yo grandmother ran yards to foil a robbery in progress, knocked one of the culprits off his scooter with her handbag and contributed to his and his accomplices being arrested and charged.

    In the USA, an armed country, the incidents of armed citizens taking action and preventing themselves and others from being victimized are too numerous to mention.

    Others fight back; in Cayman, NO ONE does, except on one very rare occasion when two fishermen did.

    On the second quote…it is Mr. Moxam’s and the CoC job to bring public awareness and pressure on the authorities to take the necessary action to bring this situation under control.

    It will not happen by meekly calling for action; that gets nothing done in Cayman, or anywhere else for that matter.

  4. To correct Mr Moxam, This isn’t becoming the new norm it is the new Norm and the powers that be have nothing to say because they have accept this as the way life is in Cayman now.

    One other thing I am sick of is hearing the same statement about the crimes every time that no one was hurt. Well sorry but we are all being hurt by this.

    It’s time people realize that the old Cayman is gone and is not coming back. It’s still beautiful but it no longer stands out from the other islands in the Caribbean. People were attracted to Cayman because of it’s reputation for safely, Just read what’s being said about it on Trip Advisor. It has great diving, but it doesn’t have the Tropical ecology and natural attractions as a lot of other islands which are a lot cheaper to visit. So if people can’t say Cayman is so much safer we are going to lose a of visitors. People like to say that crime in Cayman can’t compare to places like St Lucia or Jamaica but we have to remember that Cayman is a fraction of the size of these islands so the rate per capita may actually be higher.

  5. These articles,statements and comments sound like a broken record. Meantime RCIPS listens(if) but then goes ahead and does its own thing, blithely ignoring it. Everybody knows,but nobody acts? May be someone should consult Dexter?You know, the guy who hunts criminals.

  6. Well said Lucia. In my opinion there are about 40-50 serious criminals in Grand Cayman.

    It is this tiny number who are destroying our peace of mind and our economy.

    As Michael Davis correctly said, if you take population differences into account we probably have a higher crime rate than Jamaica.

    Meanwhile the police appear to be doing nothing.

    How about a 100,000 Dollar reward for information leading to their conviction?

    How about allowing responsible business owners and members of the public to shoot back?

    How about changing the law so that so decent citizen needs be afraid of prosecution if the defend themselves and the criminal gets injured or killed?

    When faced by a rabid dog, you don’t try to reason with them. You put them down. And this is what we need to do.

    It is not too late to take back our country.
    Please come back, my peaceful home.

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