Following public reports of a robbery and a burglary involving visitors on Grand Cayman’s North Side this year, a number of other district visitors and residents have come forward to report other incidents that have occurred in the serene outpost that draws some of Cayman’s wealthiest visitors.
According to various reports received by the Cayman Compass, more than half a dozen crimes have been alleged since late 2015 and into the early part of this year.
In one incident, a U.S. tourist claims her family was targeted after being spotted at a local restaurant by a suspect or suspects who identified their rental vehicle.*
In another case, from February, it is alleged that two tourists woke up to find a burglar in their room and chased the man out and around the parking lot of the complex they were staying in.
Those incidents, in addition to a burglary/home invasion this weekend on Rum Point Drive and a January incident in which an elderly visitor was punched in the face during a robbery, have left district residents and some long-time tourists worried.
“Right now, we’re just not even comfortable to come back to [the North Side] area, we’re going to stay at Seven Mile Beach until someone is arrested,” said Crystal VanDriessche of Illinois, who just left Cayman on Wednesday following a two-week trip that she said made her family very nervous.
Another man, Ed Sarrazin, reported to the Compass: “I have personally seen guest books [at North Side rental homes] signed with details of a robbery … have heard of three other homes where renters left the island early due to an incident.
“[I] had one of my renters leave after two days because they could not sleep after hearing about an incident from another tourist. This is not good.”
Jon Guelzow, whose young son’s room at their family home on Rum Point Drive was burgled while the boy slept, said earlier this week that it appeared to him the burglars/robbers involved in these incidents were becoming more brazen.
“In the old days [the burglaries occurred] when no one was home,” Mr. Guelzow said. “Now they’re coming in the house when people are home and they know it.”
Perhaps the most disturbing report comes from Ms. VanDriessche who described a series of events during her family’s recent visit to Cayman that ended in what appeared to be a bungled burglary attempt at their Rum Point Drive rental home which occurred one night after Mr. Guelzow’s home was broken into.
On March 8, she said, her family, along with another family they often travel with and their children, sat down to eat at Over the Edge bar and restaurant in North Side. Throughout the whole meal, she said she noticed two men sitting at opposite ends of the bar who were staring at the children. When she left the restaurant, she said one of the men went outside and noted the rental van they were traveling in.
After a couple of what she described as “suspicious incidents” involving flashlights being shined into the family’s rental home, Ms. VanDriessche said it appears a burglar attempted to get into the house through a window early on March 13.*
March 13 was the day after Mr. Guelzow woke up and spooked burglars who were attempting to get into his room while he slept.
Ms. VanDriessche said her family members were so frightened during their visit that the males, including her sons, were sleeping “with a knife on their nightstand” during the overnight periods.
On Jan. 20, 2016, during an earlier visit, the van Driessche family also stayed on Rum Point Drive at a rental home. Early that morning, Ms. VanDriessche said, she noticed two men approaching the back door of the home and attempting to jimmy it open.
The suspects tried three different doors at the house with no success.*
One visitor, Richard Sloan, told the Compass that there had been at least half a dozen burglaries in the past four months where suspects entered various properties where individuals were asleep.
“The most recent occurrence seems to be of a similar nature,” he said, referring to the break-in at Mr. Guelzow’s property. “Even though one suspect has been detained, these activities have not stopped.”
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said Tuesday that it had taken one person into custody who was “assisting with inquiries” at the Guelzow family home. The police also admitted to a “complete failure” in initially responding to the crime, stating that a person who answered a call about it on Saturday morning at the George Town Police Station did not pass the information on to 911.
“I am also personally aware the RCIPS has continued to beef up their effort to put an end to this, but to date have had no success,” Mr. Sloan said. “One of the wonderful things about the Rum Point area and the Cayman Islands has been the feeling of safety and freedom I have always felt, until this year, during the past 47 years of visiting.”
Crimes on Rum Point Drive reported in recent months by Rum Point residents and visitors include:
Nov. 26, 2015: Two condo units burglarized
Dec. 5, 2015: Two condo units burglarized with tourists inside
Dec. 17, 2015: Unit burglarized and man chased out
Jan. 11, 2016: 77-year-old Kentucky man punched in the face during a robbery
Feb. 7: Tourists wake up to find a man in their room
March 11: Unit burglarized, man spotted while trying to enter another unit
March 12: Guelzow home broken into.
***EDITOR’S NOTE, 12:15 p.m. Sunday, March 27: Several paragraphs (identified with an *) from the original story have been amended for accuracy.***