Cayman’s burglaries ‘not just police problem’

Chief Superintendent Walton: More than 150 burglars known

Kurt Walton has been chasing Cayman Islands burglars for the better part of two decades. 

During that time, the now-chief superintendent of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, who worked for most of 1990s in the criminal investigation department solving burglaries, has come to an inescapable conclusion. 

“Will we ever arrest our way out of this problem? No, We have to be looking at other problem-solving issues,” Mr. Walton said. 

The senior police officer provided these statistics collected by the police department over the past 15 years: Between 2000 and 2004, the Cayman Islands averaged 613.8 burglaries per year. During 2005 and 2009, Cayman averaged 639.2 break-ins per year. In the past five years, Cayman averaged about 592 burglaries annually. 

“The numbers are very consistent,” Mr. Walton said, nothing that the only year in the past 15 in which burglaries fell below 500 was 2012. 

This year, police have made more than 100 arrests in connection with burglaries that have occurred since January. Statistics as of June 30 indicate that it is likely the Cayman Islands may see more than 600 break-ins again this year. 

“I am convinced it’s not going to just go away,” Mr. Walton said. “It certainly was this way for the entire 1990s. There needs to be a different approach.” 

The first thing that needs to change, the chief superintendent said, is the public perception that only a few culprits are responsible for all the break-ins in Cayman. That perception, he said, was shattered during an internal command staff meeting earlier this year. 

“There’s no ‘10 or 15 guys’ involved in burglaries,” he said. “I’ve personally counted 150 faces in terms of individuals who were active in burglaries and I wasn’t including those who were in jail at that time.” 

While some “career” burglary suspects commit multiple offenses, others are offenders in their late teens who are not nearly as persistent, Mr. Walton said. One person arrested earlier this year was 14 years old. Some burglars are supporting a drug habit, others just prefer to steal for a living, he said. 

Whatever the stated reasons why people commit their crimes, many who are released from prison “genuinely want” to turn from a life of crime, Mr. Walton said. For most, that lasts about four to six weeks, before the offenders return “to their old tricks,” generally due to a lack of employment opportunities and community support. 

“We have to catch these individuals before they’re released from prison,” Mr. Walton said. “Say, [four] months [before] being released … you have a needs assessment with social services, employment, the prison, collaborating. [The suspect] is going to be released in four months’ time … what do we have in place? 

“This is not a police problem any longer. This is a society problem and other agencies need to be involved. There has to be a holistic approach to it.” 

It’s an issue Cayman Islands Director of Prisons Neil Lavis knows well and which he has sought to address by partnering with local businesses and employment agencies to try and place inmates in jobs upon their release. 

A release under temporary license program was introduced last year for inmates coming to the end of their sentences to get involved in voluntary or paid work. Mr. Lavis said if prisoners can establish that they are credible, reliable workers while in custody, more businesses will be willing to take a chance on them once they are released. 

Recidivism rates at Northward Prison average around 70 percent for all offenders. 

“If they go out with some money behind them, a job to go to, somewhere to live and some training to address some of their issues, they have a far better chance,” Mr. Lavis told the Cayman Compass in late 2014. 

Chief Superintendent Walton said he realizes the idea of hiring ex-convicts may seem unpalatable to many local businesses and recruitment agencies. But he insists something has to change in the way Cayman is dealing with the burglary problem. 

“What’s the alternative? Just continue what you’re doing now?” 

Mr. Walton
Mr. Walton


  1. If 70% end up back in jail there doesn’t seem to be much of a point letting them out.

    The key has to be to require GPS monitoring with an ankle bracelet after they have been released. Until such time as they have got a job and kept it for at least a year.

    If they know for certain they will be re-arrested immediately if they re-offend it will curb their enthusiasm.

    Pardon me but I am more concerned about law-abiding people being able to return home to find their home intact than I am about the "rights" of lazy scum.

  2. I agree with post release monitoring, which I’m sure occurs at some level.

    However part of the problem is people like you that characterize people as lazy scum. When you dehumanize a group of people, don’t be surprised when those people reject the norms of society just as you’ve rejected them. And since I’m quite certain you can’t tell who is an actual criminal versus who you think looks like a criminal, it wouldn’t surprise me if you treat entire groups of society as lazy scum until proven otherwise.

    If you bothered to read the article, Mr. Walton points out that very few are actually career criminals and that many want to get out of the life of crime but get sucked back in and need community support. Mr. Walton, who deals with criminals every day can see the value of treating these individuals as humans with needs just like the rest of us, so maybe you and everyone else should too.

  3. I would agree but the police get like 50 million dollars a year and the police boss always brings experts to cayman to work so with all that in tow it is on the minds of the public on what the police are doing too slow the crime down a little more. The police said they could deal with the crime better if these conditions where available to them. This is a small place it should by all mains be able to be managed better with these resources. The budget that the police force gets could fund a private army so the public does think we can get more for our money and thats a lot more. This in no way mains that the police are not working hard but for 50 million a year they need to work harder to get more results.

  4. Sometimes we encounter two out of five teens, raised by the best parents lean to the wrong side of the law. It does not mean that the parenting was not good but somewhere along the line the community did not help. I definitely agree with the approach of Superintendent Walton; he is a veteran of the force and an excellent one at that.
    Certainly if prisoners are released with some money, a job and somewhere to live the chance of getting back into society is much easier.
    As citizens of this country one must realize that a welcome encouraging approach to a released prisoner can be more beneficial than the scum bag approach. After-all that person is also a son or daughter of someone, and very unlikely that any of us can boast that we have never had a family member had an encounter with the wrong side of the law; even if it was only a way-ward cousin. As a society, we must play a major part in assisting with ex prisoners transition back into the work force and living a normal life.
    I remember one day I was sitting at the airport park having a quiet lunch, near by were two young Caymanians having a conversation, which I sat quietly eves-dropping. The conversation was about their involvement with a person bringing two guns into the island for one of them regarding some un-going killings taken place. I never saw the guys before in my life but knew they were Caymanians. I looked up directly across to where they were sitting and eyes met four. They stopped talking, obviously realizing that I had heard their conversation. One was well dressed in a local company uniform and the other casual. So I thought, well its do or die. So I did the do. I said to them come here and sit by me. I began to tell them that I had heard their conversation and wanted to talk. They were hesitant at first but convinced by me. My first word was "I do not want you to say a word, I want you to listen to me first" The conversation got personal to where they confessed that one of them had two young children and the other had one. Anyway to make this short I convinced them that they were on a good road now, of having good jobs making money and had children. They were convinced, and made promises to me. I can proudly say that up to today, fifteen years later those two guys are big in their jobs, and every now and then when they see me they always talk about the encounter. It does not matter who we are, we can help someone live a better life if we try, and in fact they may feel more comfortable opening up to you than the police. So as citizens I say let us partner with the police and prisons and Make Cayman great again.

  5. It is like with cancer, the disease, Billions are spent on finding a cure,and there is none, and never will be. There is just 5 years survival rate, and if you die on the 1st day of the 6th year, they would still count that you survived for 5 years. No money is being spent on cancer prevention.
    Same goes with crime, especially here, on this small island. Invest in prevention, step in when a child starts showing signs of future problems. Invest in this child’s future, there are not many people in this country to lose just one to crime, especially a male. Don’t just feed your future, guide them, help them, don’t condemn them.
    Like I said before, first time underage offenders must be removed from the environment. That is where Nation Building Fund should step in. Send them overseas, show them that world is a beautiful place. I may even suggest foreign student exchange program, if there is one for young non-violent criminals. It can do wonders to a child’s mind.

  6. Sorry Christopher but when someone chooses to break into a hard working person’s home to steal what they have worked hard to buy there’s no question that they are lazy scum.

    Perhaps they came from a poor family but there are plenty of poor children who are willing to work rather than steal.

  7. May be the "Cayman’ boys lives matter" movement is in order? There is quite a lot that can be done.
    Big Brothers? That is where male expats and PR seekers can step in filling the void left by an absent father. Every boy needs someone to look up to. Give them more points for getting involved in troubled youth lives.
    Early intervention is the key.
    I know quite a few men who have said "If we had not moved when I was a child, I would have ended up in prison"; "If not for a particular male figure influence… I would have ended up in prison."
    Mark Wahlberg’s (a Hollywood actor) story is an example that not all is lost when a juvenile commits an offense.
    Obama himself said that without family support he could have ended up in federal prison.
    In summary, this country needs a strategy, a coordinated intervention by the community and law enforcement personnel aimed to reduce the likelihood that high-risk youth with become involved in gangs.