A police employee apparently ignored a call reporting a burglary in North Side over the weekend, leading to an internal review of what was described as a “complete failure” by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service in its initial response to the crime.
Police said Monday a person who was assisting officers with the burglary investigation was in custody.
Early Saturday, two burglars broke into a Rum Point Drive home, taking clothes and electronics from a 12-year-old boy’s bedroom before being chased from the home by the child’s father.
The homeowner, Jon Guelzow, who vacations in the Cayman Islands every year, said his North Side property has been burgled before, but never while members of his family or other visitors using the property were inside.
Mr. Guelzow’s wife, Kim Willoughby, told the Cayman Compass that when her husband initially phoned police he was told that “nothing could be done” about the break-in, and that police did not interview the Colorado, USA, resident about the crime until more than 12 hours later. “He was apologized to and told it was too bad he did not club the robbers over the head,” she said.
For his part, Mr. Guelzow said, after the initial lag in response, police efforts in solving the crime were very thorough and professional. He said Sunday that he did not wish to raise any issues about how police had dealt with the matter.
The RCIPS identified why there had been a significant delay in its officers responding to the crime report. Mr. Guelzow, who reported the break-in early Saturday, called the main number at the George Town Police Station, rather than the 911 Emergency Centre. The person who answered the phone at the police station stated that “a police car was not available” and did not log the call into the police system and alert 911 as required, a statement from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service noted.
Police Commissioner David Baines personally apologized to Mr. Guelzow over the weekend and said an inquiry would be made into why the failure to forward his information to 911 had occurred.
According to the police statement: “The matter is all the more disappointing as officers were in the North Side area at the time and had stopped, and were dealing with, suspicious individuals, oblivious to the call made by the home owner.”
Police said as a result of that traffic stop early Saturday, information was obtained that led to the detention of the individual who is in custody.
“The RCIPS regrets any failure by its members to respond appropriately to calls from the public for assistance,” the RCIPS statement noted.
Earlier robbery, assault
Mr. Guelzow’s neighbor, a 77-year-old Kentucky man, was punched in the face during a Jan. 11 robbery. According to reports, the elderly visitor was sitting on the back deck with his 76-year-old wife and another woman, 61, when they were confronted. The suspects took cash, jewelry, some electronic devices and a watch. The elderly man had to be hospitalized.
One suspect, David McLaughlin Martinez, has been arrested and charged in the January attack. Police said this month that they are looking into the possibility that another person was involved in the robbery.
Cayman Crime Stoppers offered an $8,000 reward last week for additional information on leads resulting in arrests or the recovery of property in connection with the January crime.
More police for North Side
Legislative Assembly members for Grand Cayman’s less-populous districts have complained in recent years about a perceived lack of police presence in East End, North Side and Bodden Town, although recent police statistics have shown that those districts do not receive nearly as many calls for service as George Town and West Bay.
Staffing levels at the Bodden Town station were boosted after RCIPS Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks revealed during a meeting in 2014 that only five police officers were available to cover any one shift at the station.
According to RCIPS records, police officers deal with nearly 10 times as much crime in George Town as in either North Side or East End. There is also substantially more crime reported in West Bay than in Bodden Town, East End and North Side combined, statistics show.
In a 2014 budget debate over police resources, legislators for the two smaller districts suggested their areas were urgently in need of additional resources to fight rising crime.
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller proposed adding around $1.3 million to the police budget to pay for new officers, including six specifically to cover East End and North Side. The motion was rejected.