Police urge ban on illegal bike imports

Impounded motorbikes, legal and illegal, are kept behind the RCIPS central police station. – Photo: Matt Lamers

Police officers who say they are being swamped with calls on nearly a daily basis about illegally operated motorbikes are urging lawmakers to adopt a ban on the importation of such vehicles which cannot be registered for on-road use.

“Every single day, we’re getting complaints about these bikes on the road,” Royal Cayman Islands Police Chief Superintendent Kurt Walton said. “Why are we continuing to let these motorbikes into the country?”

“They should be banned,” said RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis.

Street-legal bikes that are used on roads, particularly late at night, are not the bikes RCIPS commanders are suggesting be banned, despite complaints over the past 18 months from Grand Cayman residents about disturbing the peace.

However, other bikers are using vehicles that cannot be licensed or insured, no matter their state of repair. If police do stop one of these vehicles, they are seized and impounded, according to Mr. Walton.

Police reported this week that eight of the impounded vehicles were stolen from the lot behind the main George Town Police Station. Three of the vehicles were taken on Feb. 29. Five others were stolen sometime over the past weekend.

RCIPS officers reported Wednesday that significant security changes are being made as a result of the thefts, including the extension of a fence surrounding the compound and 24/7 site monitoring by a police officer. CCTV cameras are trained on the backyard area of the police station, but officials said those were not working when the dirt bikes were stolen.

Mr. Ennis said most of the illegal bikes, dozens of which were still being stored at the police station as of Wednesday, are operated by teenagers, some of whom may not have a license to drive any motor vehicle.

“When you have young people who are brazen enough to steal from a police station, it’s a major concern,” he said.

Another difficulty for police is in determining who is a legal bike operator and who is illegally using the road. Once a determination is made that the motorbike is being operated illegally, police must decide whether to give chase. Police have been wary, generally, of pursuit since a 2013 Grand Court judgment by Justice Alex Henderson in relation to a 2008 police chase along West Bay Road that ended in the deaths of two men in the car that was being pursued.

The family of Caymanian Bruce Lee Ebanks sued the driver of the vehicle being pursued by police, as well as the Cayman Islands government, over the fatal crash on Feb. 29, 2008.

Mr. Ebanks and 21-year-old Sidney Myles, who were passengers in the car driven by then-19-year-old Alex Callan, died in the Friday night crash. Mr. Callan survived and was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving.

In late March 2013, Justice Henderson granted a judgment and costs in favor of Paulene Ebanks, the mother of Bruce Lee Ebanks. According to the judgment: “The accident was contributed to, if not caused by, the speed at which Mr. Callan was driving. He was doing so because a police car was chasing him. Had the pursuit been terminated, it is more probable than not that Mr. Callan would have slowed down to a normal speed so as to avoid attracting further police attention. The negligent failure to end the pursuit was one factor which contributed to the accident.”

Mr. Walton said banning the import of illegal dirt bikes would reduce the chance of such a tragedy resulting from a police chase in the future.

Customs Collector Charles Clifford, whose department would be responsible for enforcing such an import ban, said Thursday that it is up to Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly to make such an amendment to the Customs Law, if they desire.

“The collector of customs does not have the authority to make such a decision [on his own],” Mr. Clifford said.


  1. Like most things that are politically sneaked under the radar in Cayman; are these motor bikes. If you check who are bringing them in and then check who are allowing them to come in and then check the connections you will see that it is another one of those political friends favors; and as long as money is being made, no one cares, whose son ‘s are being killed every six months on these bikes. Take the sugar from the sugar bowl, and your family will get use to not having it.
    Royal Cayman Islands Police Chief has asked the question “Why are we still allowing these bikes to come in” Someone has the answer, and we know who it is, and unless we the people speak up, speak out and do something nothing will happen.
    And unless the police crush every bike that has been taken they will be back out on the road, legal or illegal. It is time we stop asking why about things and get into action about them

  2. Why do the police say a thing like this.
    When you have young people who are brazen enough to steal from the police station .
    How do the police know that it was young people , and not old people, or not one of their own , when they say the CCTV were not working , and they did not see who stole the bikes .

  3. Agreed 100pct on the ban. If I see another hoodlum popping a wheelie on the public road I’m gonna bust a blood vessel in my head!! Very good suggestion – re public ban by the RCIP.

  4. Fairbanks road is a popular race track for these noisy illegal bikes with un helmeted riders. Reported to cops and where are they? No where to be seen. If it is so easy to steal from under their noses just how effective can they be on the road in law enforcement?

  5. This is actually funny as if banning anything ever solved any problem.
    This country’s size is ONLY 102 sq mi and RCIPS can’t control illegally operated motorbikes? Can they control anything?
    May be fMRI (functional brain MRI) must be prerequisite to RCIPS employments as it appears that “logical”, “analytical” left hemisphere either missing or underdeveloped in members of the RCIPS. They might be also lacking or have impaired foresight-ability to extract the theme from a series of events before they completely unfold. The person with foresight doesn’t have to experience the entire series of events to know what is likely coming. People with impaired foresight can’t get the main point or see where the plot is going, they don’t plan well, or execute their plans well, unable to keep to the main point, they are easily distracted.
    Ron Clair Ebanks is absolutely right which just confirms my theory about “left hemisphere”.

  6. Caymanians, and that include Cayman resident status people too; because as far as I am concerned once you are one of the above and have the island at heart you are a Cayman, born here or not. We must all speak up and speak out on these issues that will effect us sooner or later. Some may just read the reports and comments but say nothing until they are a victim then they want everyone to share their grief. We know that out of every ten motor cycle accident there are nine deaths. These bikes need to be banned.
    Referring to one comment about the CCTV not working. Those CCTV cameras has proven to be a disappointment to the island, what I would like to say is check out who has the franchise for them, all linked to a certain security companies where by, certain person has jumped on to this wagon and reaping thousands of dollars while the cameras is not working, no maintenance and no checking that Government is paying a fortune for nothing to political friends.
    Look what happened the other day when we had the brazen robbery at Caymana Bay. When the robbers got out of view of the Caymana Bay Cameras, then every thing went blank. Cameras not working. People we need to see that Government stop paying out money for things such as the CCTV. Hold your representatives responsible, because they are plot and parcel of all these things. Check it out and see how many of these Cameras are working, how many can pick up anything before fat checks are paid every month for them. Just not right.

  7. @Twyla Vargas
    Wrong focus Twyla. Your country must start focusing not on motor bikes but on its future- its children, boys in particular. Have you noticed that all “great achievements” we hear about involve girls? Where are the boys?
    But to do that your leaders need to understand what is going on and how to address it. I happen to be interested in brain plasticity and have learned that many deficiencies in brain development can be corrected with the right approach and programs. I have already mentioned in one of my posts that there is Arrowsmith School in Toronto that does just that-evaluates deficiencies and designs individualized programs to correct it. You don’t have too many children to waste even one. Especially boys. May be all children that demonstrate some deviations in behaviour should be accessed before they even start schools? This country CAN afford to invest in its future. And it must!
    Instead you focus on the negative which just becomes bigger. Focus on solutions. You can’t put all your boys and men in jail and expect happily ever life for yourself.
    Look into the root of the problem. And I bet every single boy and man who you want to put in prison (or already there) will exhibit brain development abnormalities which CAN BE corrected. But not in a prison.
    Secondly- motorbikes are not the problem. They provide recreational activity for the boys. Properly guide this activity, not ban it. Boys need activities like that.
    There are too many wars going on – wars agains motorbikes, cancer, poverty, terrorism, teenage pregnancies, hunger, infections, drugs, obesity, domestic violence, etc… Not a single war has ever been won and never will be because of the wrong focus. Focus on the solution, on what works!

  8. I agree that these bikes should be banned. They are definitely dangerous and most will eventually end up in the hands of children who are likely going to race them down roads, endangering themselves as well as other motorists, pedestrians and their pets. Young boys, by nature, look for adventure and seem to have a “need for speed.” Instead of crushing the bikes, as Twyla suggested, why don’t the police sell them in a country (perhaps Jamaica?) where they are legal? Then the money could be used to purchase something safe, like go-karts and helmets, and build a safe track for them. Kids, with their parent’s permission, could pay a nominal fee to race on the track, satisfying their need for speed in a safe manner. There could be a track set up in each district, and it could be staffed either by responsible adults or concerned and responsible volunteers.

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