Police arrested seven teenagers in connection with a rash of burglaries, attempted burglaries and criminal trespass cases that plagued Bodden Town district this spring, residents were told at a public meeting Wednesday.

Royal Cayman Islands Police Sgt. Orlando Mason told the group of Bodden Towners that between April 1 and June 1, about 60 crimes were reported, generally in the center of the historic town.

When asked during the meeting at Savannah Primary School whether police had made any arrests in connection with the crimes, Mr. Mason responded they had cleared about 20 cases.

“That was just to get it under control, because it was horrendous,” he said of the burglary situation.

It was more troubling to some Bodden Town residents who attended Wednesday to discover who had been arrested.

“They’re youngsters, 15 to 17 most of them,” Mr. Mason said. “There was about seven youngsters we targeted and all seven are currently at Her Majesty’s pleasure [going through the criminal justice system].”

Mr. Mason, one of three police detectives now assigned to the Bodden Town area, said he asked one of the young men arrested in the crime spree why he had done it.

“He said he’s safer in Northward [prison],” Mr. Mason recounted. “He has no one to care for him and he said the system would look after him.”

The news of the arrests and some of the detective’s comments about those taken into custody struck a nerve with district residents.

“We’ve just basically condemned seven young people to a life of crime,” said Mary Lawrence, a former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. “I don’t know what brought them to this point, but I do know the Caymanian community is responsible for getting them to that point.

“In some of these new developments, there is not one square inch of space left where children can kick a ball,” she said. Newlands MLA Alva Suckoo said he had been out walking local neighborhoods “a lot recently” during the general election campaign and noted the same concerns as Mrs. Lawrence.

“Just about every evening I went out … that’s what I saw,” Mr. Suckoo said. “Young kids running around in the neighborhoods, unsupervised, and some of them are causing problems.”

RCIPS Inspector Rudolph Gordon said his officers already have their hands full “going back in” to burglary cases that have not been solved from this spring.

“What caught us the other day was the number of incidents we had to return to,” Mr. Gordon said. “[The burglary spree] has been stemmed and now it’s just a matter of going back to solve as many as possible.”

Police staffing

Sergeant Mason said there are some limits to what he and his team of two detectives in Bodden Town can do on their own, and lobbied Police Commissioner Derek Byrne for a few more officers in the district.

Mr. Byrne has transferred a number of police officers to the eastern districts in recent months, but acknowledged that is not going to be the permanent solution to the district’s crime problem.

The commissioner told residents Wednesday that 30 police officers had been assigned to Bodden Town Police Station, working “six a shift” – five officers, supervised by a police sergeant. He said there are also two neighborhood police officers assigned permanently to the district.

In addition, there are now two full-time officers and a sergeant assigned to North Side Police Station, and two officers at East End Police Station. Until this year, those police stations had been vacant.

While the police department’s current staff is reallocated based on community needs, Mr. Byrne said the overall number of police officers has continued to shrink. The RCIPS now has fewer officers on staff than it did 10 years ago. Three more officers have recently announced their intention to leave the force, Mr. Byrne said.

“They’ve all agreed that while they’re going to other jobs, they’ll work as special constables,” he said, referred to the volunteer, unpaid officers who are used to supplement the RCIPS ranks.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. This is a most troubling situation to say the least. Bad enough when older ones commit crimes. But it is much worse when teenagers (15 to 17) are involved. The questions that immediately come to mind include, where are the parents, how are these children being raised, and is there “gang influence/pressure connection in some other way? Noted the response by one of these youngsters when asked why he did it. “He said it is safer in Northward prison. He has no one to care for him and the system would look after him.” As a society, where do we go from here? Only God knows.

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  2. After hearing about all the different crimes committed in Bodden Town , I would think that the Commissioner would make it a priority to having more Police Officers put in that part 24/7 365 days a year . We have to remember if you don’t go directly to the cancer you will not cure it and it just keeps spreading .

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  3. Mary Lawrence is absolutely right, this is a community problem. To hear that young people are so desperate for some stability and care in their lives, they commit crimes to get the state to provide it, is an appalling state of affairs. Until the community comes together to reaffirm the long held values of the Islands and address the underlying issues, then crime and disorder will follow and in a country the size of the Cayman islands, it doesn’t take much crime and disorder for there to be a real danger of a breakdown.
    But of course, so many people – those who do not want to take responsibility, think this is the police’s fault.

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  4. All very sad and worrying.
    In my opinion one of the biggest problems we face is teenage pregnancy. Children who think it is clever to get pregnant by the “coolest boy” in class.
    Until we tackle this problem head on we will continue to have a problem.

    A friend of mine in her late 30s visited a school in the hope of imparting some wisdom about this subject. She was asked by some 14 year old girl if she herself had children.
    When she replied, “No” she was told she was a tree that couldn’t bear fruit and no man would want her.

    What can we do with attitudes like this.

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  5. A large part of the problem, directly associated with the increase in crime is the astonishing fact that we have less police officers than we had 10 years ago, despite the increase in population. A police officer earns a lot more than the minimum wage, along with the benefits associated being an employee of Government, so why is it all these vacancies are not being filled from within the ranks of our vast army of unemployed Caymanians?. Perhaps our politicians who want a moatorium on work permits can answer that.

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  6. Youngsters? If they’re old enough to know how to burgle, then they have transition into young adult thieves.
    First things first. Go after the so-called parents, both mom and dad or anyone legally bound to care and hold them totally responsible with big fines. Get them where it hurts. Money. Have a curfew and get these little thugs off the streets. Enforce it!
    Think ahead, way ahead. Build youth centers for them with volunteer staff instead of all the brand new buildings, etc. Maybe some of the inmates could help educate them at the centers.
    The police say the 20 solved cases have stemmed the tide of 60. Is this a joke? Get the UK to come in and help if need be, because the problem isn’t just in Bodden Town, it’s the entire island. The island survives because of the financial and tourist business and I can guarantee that one or both of those will dramatically dwindle if this keeps up. I for one, plan to be in Grand Cayman for a visit and I for one, am having serious doubts about safety at this point. I am not alone.

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  7. I would not believe what the young man said about feeling safer in NorthWard because he has no place to stay. Any young man in this district who does not have a parent or a place to stay in Bodden Town, either is not from this district or don’t want to live anywhere except Northward Prison.
    I totally agree with Ms Mary Lawrence comments and this problem is part Police and Parents control. The commissioner says that quite a number of officers were sent to Bodden Town. Where are they, and besides that there are growing issues and FrontPage problems that the police can deal with here, but looks the other direction. Some parents and guardians have let their young people boss them in the homes, feeding them cooking for them, they not working and out all night causing problems. Not under my watch. Once I am aware of such a thing no matter if they are family they are going to pay consequences.
    I am looking forward tho the Commissioner having a meeting in East Bodden Town. We have the largest amount of residents and most of the burglaries were committed in East Bodden Town. Nothing is going to be achieved if those in charge does not find a solution to the young people problem. I will be looking forward to see better things done very soon.

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  8. And there is a “Cayman Islands National Youth Policy 2000” that so many were so proud about. But in reality should be ashamed of “giving a birth” to a stillborn policy. Get curious and find out who they are and what positions they are holding today.

    I would take with a grain of salt what the kid said. I believe that crime is organized in the Cayman Islands and recruits young people. It is possible that he tries to outsmart you, or was instructed what to say. No human being, especially so young, would want to be behind bars.

    When Caymanian girls are segregated for 10-12 years from expat’s girls, who could have been the role models for them, who do you think guides their behaviour and values?
    Unfortunately no expat parents would send their kids into a Caymanian school even if it was free. Affluent Caymanian’ parents already educate their kids in private schools.

    The problem lies much deeper. And RCIPS’s presence on every corner of BT or GT is not going to fix it.

    This country has no leaders with vision and wisdom. They are simply unable to understand the root cause of this HUGE problem. They seem to have only 2 goals – attract more tourists into already suffocated infrastructure and develop every sq.inch of the undeveloped land. There are numerous ways to attract more money with less “traffic”, less destruction of the island and people’s lives. Has any of the elected candidates proposed just one idea? Many small countries with limited natural resources have already done that.

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