Boys perhaps as young as 13 or 14 were likely responsible for an overnight armed robbery Friday at a central George Town business, the store’s manager said following a review of closed circuit television footage.
Stanley Panton of the Reflections group said he could not specifically identify the youths who held up the business on Godfrey Nixon Way around 12:30 a.m., threatening the staff with a machete and knife and taking $250 and four packs of cigarettes.
“One of them was just 4 feet and change … he’s not even tall enough to reach the cigarettes,” Mr. Panton said. “They were teenagers.”
According to the store manager, the robbery suspects had a plan. Footage from outside the store shows one of the suspects using the tip of his machete to reach the buzzer outside the magnetically sealed front door. He uses the machete to reach around the corner so that he could not be seen by staff or on the CCTV camera monitors inside.
On the third ring of the store’s buzzer, the security guard inside went to the door to see what was happening. He pushed the magnetic seal lock that allowed the door to be opened, and Mr. Panton said one of the suspects jumped inside and held the machete to the guard’s throat.
The other young man ran into the shop and held a knife to the cashier’s waist. No one was injured during the robbery.
The suspects were described by police as being between 5 feet and 5 feet, 3 inches tall, and Mr. Panton said the store personnel had considered overpowering them during the course of the hold-up, but he said store policy prevents staff from interfering during such an incident.
However, Mr. Panton said he would not have followed those rules if he had been there. “You would have been writing a different story today, one about a young man’s mother crying,” he said.
Mr. Panton’s frustration during Monday’s interview with the Cayman Compass was palpable. He said his family’s store at Godfrey Nixon Way has been robbed five times in the past several years, and there have been burglaries or hold-ups at other Reflections stores in George Town and Savannah. There was also one incident in 2010 when shots were fired through the front door during a burglary attempt.
At this point, Mr. Panton said, he is considering closing the Godfrey Nixon Way location earlier – it now operates as a 24-7 store – and moving the all-night operation to another business in George Town. He said the business would keep the magnetic locks operated around the clock, not just at night.
Other security measures being considered include posting guard dogs with security handlers outside the business. Mr. Panton said he would also consider having armed guards at the store, but he noted that is not permissible under local law.
Mr. Panton and his brother Prentice have also asked Police Commissioner David Baines and Premier Alden McLaughlin to host a National Security Council meeting with business owners to discuss crime prevention issues, perhaps to include some sort of amnesty program for firearms.
“Otherwise, I’m afraid law-abiding, hardworking citizens are going to start taking matters into their own hands,” he said. “The majority of hardworking people here in Cayman are frustrated to no end.”