Despite a recent spike in high-profile robberies, with a few occurring in well-traveled tourist areas of Grand Cayman, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said Monday that robbery and burglary reports have declined overall so far this year.
Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 26, the number of robberies reported in the Cayman Islands was 29, compared to 39 during the same period last year.
Similarly, there was a slight decline in burglaries, from 538 break-ins in the first 10 months of this year to 565 during the same period last year.
What troubles police is the nature of some of the recent robberies, during which not only businesses were robbed, but also their patrons.
Four recent robberies, including three in high-profile tourism areas on Grand Cayman, occurred within five days of one another this month.
Two of the robberies involved popular restaurants – one on the George Town waterfront and another along the southern end of the Seven Mile Beach area. Coconut Joe’s, across the street from the Comfort Suites and Marriott Beach Resort, is one of the longest-serving eateries in the area.
On Oct. 16, the wallets of several bar patrons at Coconut Joe’s were taken by robbers, who also stole cash from the restaurant’s register. At least one customer was robbed in the other incident, which occurred on Oct. 13 at Da Fish Shack in downtown George Town.
One arrest was made last week in relation to the Coconut Joe’s robbery, but no charges had been filed at press time.
“We have started to see the trend that not only was the premises being targeted, but also staff and patrons at outside bars at very popular locations,” said RCIPS Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay. “It’s difficult at the moment to say whether it’s the same two individuals [involved in the incidents at Da Fish Shack and Coconut Joe’s] … certainly the modus operandi is similar.
“We don’t feel necessarily that it’s the same two people committing all these robberies,” he added.
Mr. Kay said police decided to investigate a number of recent robberies in concert with one another, rather than individually, and that all information in the cases is being routed through a “major incident room.”
Speaking generally, the chief inspector said the robberies and burglaries don’t “seem to be that well organized.”
“They seemed to be random attacks on targets late at night, where there are very few people left in the establishment,” he said.
In addition to investigative efforts, RCIPS commanders have started putting more “boots on the street,” engaging in targeted police foot patrols, particularly in the Seven Mile Beach corridor and in downtown George Town.
Between Oct. 17 and Sunday night, police searched 30 to 40 individuals in those areas and made spot checks at 80 businesses.
“We’ve physically gotten out of the vehicles and spoken to owners and patrons. We’ve gotten some positive feedback,” said Kurt Walton, RCIPS chief superintendent
Proactive policing efforts cannot prevent all crimes, as evidenced Sunday night in an armed robbery at the Rubis gas station on Shedden Road, which Mr. Walton said was one of the 80 businesses inspected during routine foot patrols over the past week and a half.
According to police, the convenience store was robbed by a man who police said was brandishing what appeared to be a firearm. The man took cash and escaped on foot. No arrests were immediately reported.
He said officers on the beat continue to advise residents and visitors not to try and fight back if confronted by robbers.
“My advice will always be not to resist because it’s not worth risking your life over a cellphone or cash,” he said.