Vacationing US police officer tackles beach thief

New York police officer Ken Augsbach came to Grand Cayman to take a break from fighting crime. But when he spotted a thief snatch a woman’s purse on the beach, instinct took over. 

He sprinted after him, across a road and into an overgrown area littered with broken bottles before hauling him to the ground. 

The 52-year-old officer, on vacation with his family, was joined in pursuit of the thief by others, including a van driver who temporarily abandoned his tour bus to give chase. They held on to the thief until police arrived and arrested him. 

“It is not good for tourism when someone does something like that and I wasn’t about to let him get away with it,” said Mr. Augsbach. 

He said he had been walking along the beach at Smith Cove when he heard a commotion and saw a man running from behind the tree line with a woman’s bag. 

“It was an instinctive reaction. I wasn’t really worried for my personal safety. 

“If we were in the water swimming and someone was stealing my wife’s purse, I hope someone would do the same for us,” Mr. Augsbach said. 

He said several people had also given chase and helped him detain the thief. 

“It was a group effort between me and that van driver and I was lucky to be the one that took him down,” he said. 

“I think you could see from the way people reacted that type of thing isn’t tolerated in Cayman. It is a safe place to come and you don’t see crimes like that too often. 

“I have been to many beautiful locations in the Caribbean, but you don’t get the same sense of security and safety anywhere else.” 

He said the incident had not changed his opinion. 

“If anything, it is one less bad guy to worry about.” 

Al Handell Pearson, 42, admitted the theft when he appeared in Summary Court on Monday. 

The court heard that the victim, a cruise ship passenger, had been swimming in the ocean with her husband when they spotted the man rifling through their things. They also gave chase and raised the alarm. 

The court heard he had told police that he had not eaten for three days and had snatched the bag “against my better judgment.” 

Mr. Augsbach, an officer in Suffolk County, New York, said he felt bad for the man if he really had not eaten in days. 

“I have been a police officer for 30 years and when someone is poor and hungry, I do feel for them,” he said. “I told him if he had asked me for a few dollars, I would have given it to him. I’m sure everyone on the beach feels the same.” 

Vacationing New York police officer Ken Augsbach, in white T-shirt, and a tour bus driver restrain a thief after catching him snatching a bag at Smith Cove.

Vacationing New York police officer Ken Augsbach, in white T-shirt, and a tour bus driver restrain a thief after catching him snatching a bag at Smith Cove.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. With the amount of loitering, drugs & stealing that occurs at the site, why is it that the police does not have officers patrolled or stationed there especially considering it is a frequent visited tourist site?

  2. Hopefully this attitude of not tolerating the growing crime starts to spread. We can’t just rely on the police to keep Cayman safe, look how far that has gotten us to this point.

    One thing I would say is that it wasn’t that bright for them to all go swimming leaving their belongings unattended. No matter how safe the place is..

  3. this guy is known as the action tourist, he s legendary on the island i vacationed there shortly after and everyone knew his name he has a reputation up in his new york department as fair but will not allow even the pettiest of crimes go un enforced bravo action tourist bravo !!

  4. i cant say enough about this guy risking his own safety in defense of justice he cant turn it off even on vacation the people of the cayman islands are safer now they are talking about erecting a statue in his honor bravo action tourist !!!

  5. I was Ken’s supervisor up in the Fighting Fourth Precinct. To say he was the “Terror of Port Jefferson” was an understatement. Lord help you if you rolled through a stop sign up on Main St while he was on breakout. The dept really couldn’t spare someone with his classroom ability to enforce the law, but when they did you’d better look out. Word on the street among the criminal element would spread fast when Ken was on foot patrol, and the good folks of Port Jeff could sleep well that week. It’s no surprise that he has the entirety of Cayman Island on lockdown while he was there. He never took a day off, never slept, never stopped training, and most of all, never stopped caring.