Numerous crimes reported in North Side since late 2015

Visitors fear they’re being targeted

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.”

Visitors ‘marked’

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.*

Several incidents

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.***


  1. I agree there is a society problem for increased crime, but to state it has nothing to do with the police is a seriously ignorant conclusion. Are you in the belief that increase patrols, active interaction with suspicious individuals is of no benefit? I rarely see any police patrols in northside or Bodden Town. The government needs to invest in manpower for the police service in order to increase their presence. If this crime is not stopped soon, you are sure to see the effects with decreased tourists that provide a substantial cash influx to the island through rent, car rental, groceries, restaurants, general shopping and services. I now have to lock up my house all day and shut out the amazing island breezes we all enjoy in the island, for fear of the less and less random robbery.

  2. The list of home invasions on the North Side is an under estimate. My home was burglarized twice within the last few months and not noted in the above article. One of those times is when we had house guests with two young children in the room the criminals entered. I note this because the father was quite upset and he happens to be a close friend and correspondent for the New York Post. He is itching to write an article as to what occurred, which would likely be picked up by other media in a news hungry country like the U.S. Just what effect do you think that might have on tourism? I have discouraged him from doing so, at least for the time being.
    The North Side needs the police station already built in Hut Village to be manned 24/7. It was built in a perfect central location, and it was built for a purpose!

    One other point: how many trained police in Cayman are spending their time in the police stations and not on patrol? In the US and Canada the “inside” work in most towns is done by civilians not police.

  3. Since these crimes of theft, burglary, breaking and entering seem to be occurring in localised areas, perhaps increased patrols at night? Also offer decent rewards for information leading to the arrest of the culprits? We are going to regret allowing this to get out of hand, as with the media nowadays, this information will spread like wildfire, ruining our wonderful reputation of being a safe place to visit. The possibility also exists that condo complexes can hire private security staff. When someone gets seriously injured, we will address the matter four sure!

  4. I’ve seen a very regretable change in Cayman since I first arrived here 10 years ago. When we first rented our home, there wasn’t even any front door key supplied. No one needed to lock their doors we were told, there is no crime here. How different it is now. I lock the doors when I am in the house during the day and even without air conditioning we make sure all the windows are closed at night. We’d rather swelter than wake up with a strange man in the house.
    We had joined the list of those applying for permanent residence, but now as much as we love Cayman, we’re thinking of moving elsewhere because I don’t feel safe in the house on my own anymore. Word will soon get out to tourists, cruise shippers and stay over visitors that Cayman isn’t the safe haven it used to be, and with our prices here being higher than in other destinations, it will no longer be so attractive to pay that premium when the safe and relaxing vacation feeling is no longer here.

  5. We had an attempted burglary while staying in the Rum Point area. We were not quite asleep and heard someone trying to get in. Yelled at him and chased him away. We did not call the police. We thought it would do no good. I am sure this has happened to others. It was our last visit to Cayman. I still think of this and it is very unsettling. It’s no fun to go on vacation and be frightened. Then you get to your airport to leave and you know you will never come back.

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