Athelstan Charles Long wears miniatures of his army service medals at an event in 2015. Several of his medals were stolen from a safe on Sept. 14. - PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY
Athelstan Charles Long wears miniatures of his army service medals at an event in 2015. Several of his medals were stolen from a safe on Sept. 14. – PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY

Thieves pried open a safe and stole the war medals and other treasured personal effects of Athelstan Charles Long, the first governor of the Cayman Islands, earlier this month.

A reward has been offered for anyone who safely returns the medals to their rightful owner.

Mr. Long, now 98, resides in the Pines Retirement Home. His medals and other personal effects were stolen from an office in George Town on Sept. 14. CCTV footage captured the alleged perpetrators climbing the office balcony at 2:21 a.m. and exiting the office at 4:50 a.m.

Amanda Roberts, Mr. Long’s attorney, hopes that the items will be recovered.

“I look after all Mr. Long’s affairs and manage his care,” she said. “He is a 98-year-old veteran of World War II and I’ve known him for a long time. When he and his late wife Zadie used to live near Pedro, we were neighbors and I would pop around to visit them and we became friends. I am also his attorney.”

Mr. Long fought for Great Britain in World War II. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese during his service in the Pacific theater. He also served in the foreign service after the war.

Mr. Long served as Cayman’s last administrator from 1968 to 1971 and as the first governor from August 1971 to August 1972.

Mr. Long’s son, Charles Long, a prominent Cayman painter, told the Cayman Compass Monday that among the medals stolen were his father’s cross denoting membership in the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.

Ms. Roberts said the elder Mr. Long’s prized Burma Star medal was also stolen.

Mr. Long’s family has not yet done a full inventory of his honors and is not certain which of his other medals were stolen.

Athelstan Charles Long still has these miniature versions of the medals he earned during his military and civil service career.

The safe that held the medals was lined with concrete, and it housed commemorative coins and antique jewelry that were also stolen.

“This is a sad and terrible thing to happen at this stage of Mr. Long’s life and for his family,” said Ms. Roberts of the crime and its collateral damage. “A concrete-lined combination-lock safe should have been safer than any home. You hear of home invasions and residential burglaries all the time now, so his family felt it best to put the medals and valuables in an office safe. It is an unconscionable act.”

Police are investigating, and a reward is offered for the safe return of the medals or for information leading to their recovery.

Andrew McLaughlin, acting president of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association, expressed his regret for the crime and his hope that Mr. Long’s possessions will be found.

“It’s unfortunate because I’m sure some of the medals can’t be replaced,” he said. “We would hope that the people would come forward and give back the medals because they have very high sentimental value for him and his descendants. Those things are passed down from generation to generation.”

Anyone with information can contact the RCIPS Burglary Unit at 949-4222 or call Crime Stoppers (800-TIPS/800-8477) or message 936-3676.

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  1. Home invasions. Stealing from charities like Meals on Wheels. Breaking into a supposedly hardened safe to steal some medals. 99% or more of the people living in Grand Cayman are decent, honest folk.

    But there is a tiny 1% or less that are plain and simply wicked. Because of this wicked tiny minority the rest of us must lock our homes and cars, be fearful when we go to sleep and avoid walking alone at night. We leave our homes in the morning never knowing if our possessions will still be there when we come home.

    Were they badly bought up? Neglected? Fell in with bad company? It doesn’t matter.
    I am sure these wicked people are known to their friends, family and neighbors. Who choose to protect them.
    We must find them and either hang them, sterilize them or lock them up forever.

    • I agree with you 100% Norman .we should do just like you said in the last sentence . Because we shouldn’t alow 1% of society to run and ruin our lives nowhere in this world .
      Then new Laws should be made to hold family responsible for when stolen property is found in/on their property .with prison time too .

  2. One would think that even criminals should have some moral codes that would prohibit burglarizing a house of a national hero Derek Haines or a veteran of World War II for example. They weren’t born criminals. They were innocent and adorable babies once. They live in one of the beautiful places on Earth, not in NYC or Detroit ghettos. Who are they?

    By the way, how many burglaries are being solved? 1 out of 10,20,30? RCIPS should already have a solid database of fingerprints that could have led them to that 1% of “simply wicked”. Then what is the problem? It is not like they have a place to run or hide.