Stepped-up police activity in the wake of four armed robberies on Grand Cayman this week led to the arrest of one man who officers said was responsible for two of the crimes.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers chased down the 25-year-old Bodden Town resident in a stolen, gold-color SUV Wednesday afternoon following a 3 p.m. robbery at the Lookout Grocery Store.
The man was later linked to Tuesday morning’s robbery at Mr. Arthur’s store on North Church Street, police said.
Police officers fanned out across the island Wednesday night and Thursday morning searching for the suspects in two gas station robberies that occurred early Tuesday morning.
“We are not sitting idly by as inquiries into these crimes are conducted,” Acting Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis said Thursday. “We will not allow criminals to roam free.”
A number of police road checkpoints were set up early Thursday morning and other operations, both overt and covert, were under way as of press time Thursday, police said.
“These activities may bring some unavoidable inconvenience to the public and we ask for the public’s patience,” Mr. Ennis said.
Police were also investigating several burglaries over the past week as well, including break-ins at the Meals-on-Wheels charity, George Town Primary School, Shining Stars daycare center in George Town, and two local businesses, including a Digicel waterfront store.
“We are extremely concerned about these recent crimes and the impact they have had not only on the business sector, but the wider community,” Chamber of Commerce President Kyle Broadhurst said Thursday.
Following Wednesday’s robbery at Lookout Grocery on Anton Bodden Drive, police said, the armed suspect took the store owner’s SUV to use in his escape.
Police said the man refused to stop when patrol officers caught up to him Wednesday afternoon, and he ended up crashing the SUV in the Breakers area. He was then arrested.
A flare gun that was “adapted” to look like a firearm was found in the vehicle, police said.
“This quick and well-coordinated response by officers has resulted in an arrest which will hopefully help allay some of the public’s fears after the robberies yesterday,” said RCIPS Superintendent Robert Graham.
In addition, the Honda Civic that was used in armed robberies of two George Town gas stations early Tuesday was recovered by the RCIPS in Prospect.
Police officers are still investigating the holdups at Brown’s Esso in Industrial Park at 4 a.m. and at Brown’s Esso on Shamrock Road in Red Bay at 4:40 a.m.
The third robbery, believed to be separate from the other two incidents, was at Mr. Arthur’s store on the George Town waterfront around 9 a.m. Tuesday. The suspects were armed in all three incidents, but no one was physically hurt.
Closely linked with the recent robberies have been several police reports of stolen vehicles around the islands, the most recent of which came Thursday following the theft of a Honda Civic from Selkirk Drive in George Town.
The vehicle recovered Tuesday in connection with the gas station heists was stolen, as was the SUV used in Wednesday’s escape attempt.
“Given the continuing reports of car thefts and the propensity for stolen cars to be used to commit other crimes, we ask members of the public to vigilantly secure their vehicles at all times and not to keep any articles of value in their vehicles,” Mr. Ennis said. “We have received reports of thefts of vehicles where keys have been left in the vehicles.”
Complicating matters somewhat is the relatively large number of vehicles still being driven around Grand Cayman with no permanent license plates attached.
The Department of Vehicles and Drivers’ Licensing has been trading out the temporary paper tags on new cars for permanent electronic license plates since last month. However, at last count, approximately 1,000 new vehicles required the new plates to be added.