Top story 2014: Robberies, still a problem, decline

Robberies, while down overall in Cayman, still pose a problem. Police say armed robbers have turned their attention to popular tourist spots in Goerge Town and along Seven Mile Beach. 

According to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, there were 41 robberies as of Dec. 17, down from the 49 robberies reported for the same period last year. Burglary, on the other hand, was up slightly over last year, with 699 thefts recorded as of Dec. 7, compared to 667 from the same period in 2013. 

Police reported a spike in crime in 2013. Robberies topped out at 59 last year, while 2013 saw an overall increase of more than 40 percent serious crimes, including burglary, robbery, assault and murder, said the Adrian Seales of RCIPS. 

The year started with a daring daytime heist at Diamonds International that played out like a Hollywood action movie. Police Service Commissioner David Baines just happened to be driving by on New Year’s Day during the robbery and ran down the robbers in his truck, arresting two. Since then, there have been dozens of robberies this year. 

Kurt Walton, RCIPS chief superintendent, said this year “saw a number of small business owners’ premises such as grocery stores, restaurants and bars targeted by robbers. The majority of robberies this year could be considered street-type robberies where the victims were approached whilst walking along the street or on their way to their car.” 

He said 11 of the robberies this year involved a gun or an imitation gun, 14 incidents involved other weapons such as a machete or hammer, and the remaining 15 had no weapon involved, but the robber used physical force such as shoving the victim. 

In April, two masked men, one armed with a machete, forced a man into his apartment at the Lakeside Villas apartment complex near Camana Bay. The man was not injured, but the robbers made off with $1,200. 

The next month, in the same area, four men robbed another man of $4. Again, one of the robbers was armed with a machete. 

On the evening of Dec. 5, a woman armed with a knife robbed a woman who was with her two daughters, ages 10 and 2, in a shopping center in Savannah. On Dec. 17, three armed men robbed a liquor store in Grand Harbour. 

Guns have played a role in numerous crimes this year. Last month, an armed robber held up a waiter and two tourists in the Paradise Restaurant on South Church Street late on a Monday night. There were a spate of robberies at popular tourist spots in recent months, including a stickup at Coconut Joe’s across from the Marriott Beach Resort when two armed men entered through the kitchen and threatened customers and demanded cash from the register. 

Police Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay said last month, “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.” 

RCIPS Chief Superintendent Walton explained that earlier this year there was a series of robberies in the Red Bay-Prospect area.  

“We were then seeing a trend along the waterfront – North Church Street area. However, a quick arrest and subsequent charge for robbery of one individual following one of those robberies saw a dramatic drop in street robberies along that stretch,” he said. 

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Business resumed at Blackbeard’s liquor store in Grand Harbour earlier this month after it was robbed by three armed men. Police arrested four suspects shortly after the incident. – Photo: Charles Duncan

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One of the suspects in the Diamonds International robbery is taken to the court building . – PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY

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