Community fights back after burglary spree

Nine burglaries in Snug Harbour since March 1

Snug Harbour resident Karen Thomas talks to community police officers and MLA Joey Hew on Jennifer Drive on Thursday. - PHOTO: VICKI WHEATON

An alarming spike in burglaries has sparked police and community action in one Grand Cayman neighborhood.

A dozen break-ins have been reported in Snug Harbour this year, including at least nine in the past six weeks.

The area’s community police officer, Jonathan Kern, said there had been several further attempted break-ins and police believe criminals are specifically targeting the quiet neighborhood.

In most cases, jewelry and other valuables have been taken.

Amid growing community concern, Constable Kern, a team of community officers and the area’s MLA, Joey Hew, have been going door to door to talk to residents and offer advice on making their homes more secure.

A Neighborhood Watch group is also in the process of being established.

Mr. Kern said, “People are worried and they have a right to be worried. They are also enthusiastic about getting involved and helping us out.

“We are pushing community policing across the whole island. With what is going on here, this is one of the best places to start.”

He said officers were assembling a contact list of people in the neighborhood and helping them set up communications networks to make the area safer.

“It is really about them being the community’s eyes and ears. It is a partnership and we need to work with them to act on what information they give us,” he said.

Police have also increased patrols in the area in response to the spate of burglaries.

Mr. Hew said he had been in touch with the National Roads Authority to deal with concerns highlighted about poor street lighting in the area. Areas of overgrown vegetation that provide potential cover for criminals will also be dealt with, he said.

A WhatsApp and email group, which includes the community officers, has been set up to share information and a community meeting is planned.

Mr. Hew said, “The issue of crime and burglaries is a real concern and as a community we shouldn’t accept it or be complacent about it.

“I encourage everyone to set up these Neighborhood Watch groups and WhatsApp chats and we can all watch out for each other’s homes.”

He said he was concerned about the rise in burglaries but encouraged by the police and community response. “When we toured the area, we talked to several dozen residents and it was actually a very positive evening.”

He said people were determined to protect their community and enthusiastic about the neighborhood watch project.

Mr. Kern, who is the community officer for multiple districts off West Bay Road and the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, said police were looking to establish a network of neighborhood watch groups in the area.

“I encourage anyone to contact the RCIPS neighborhood department and try and get it set up. When we have that in place, we will be able to get on top of problems a lot faster.”

One resident on Jennifer Drive, Mathew Sloane, said he was encouraged by the response and interested in becoming part of a Neighborhood Watch group. He has not been burgled, though his bike was stolen from in front of his house. He said lighting was a key concern.

“It is pitch black for long stretches. It is an absolute invitation for an opportunist thief, knowing full well this is a fairly affluent area. You almost can’t blame them for targeting this area.”

He said better lighting and more communication between residents would make the area safer.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Small point but Neigbourhood has a U in it and there is no such thing as as a Break In. It’s a Breaking, as in Breaking the boundary of a home. This is a UK OT so get the spelling and the law right.

  2. Shouldn’t Mr MLA Hew be talking more about bringing in special task force to deal with the crime problem, rather than just talking to the neighborhood about protecting their properties . I think that is the way he intends to fix the crime problem that is out of control , talk to people about securing their property . Then what responsibility does Mr Hew and the Police have in fixing the problem ?

  3. There is a derelict lot in Snug Harbour at the west end of Palm Heights Drive that belongs to the bigger parcel that was formerly the Hyatt Regency. It is used for party people, meeting point, and convenient parking to Hemingway’s beach on a Sunday, or people who don’t belong in Snug Harbour or Palm Heights and use the subdivision for running and exercising. Although Palm Heights is not Snug Harbour, it gains access from Snug Harbour and is the same neighbourhood. It is common knowledge that DART is the current owner. All of the other DART properties in the vicinity that are not under development have been fenced or monitored by security. Currently it is a dumping ground for vegetation. An unlicensed/unregistered Honda CRV SUV has been parked there for many months. I also know that if it is investigated in the neighbourhood, it will be discovered that there are a few other vehicles parked on vacant parcels in Snug Harbour.

    As a long time property owner in Snug Harbour more than 20 years, I have observed that the crime comes from people prospecting the neighbourhood for odd jobs and fast cash, service people who are regular attendants to the homes not being paid fairly by employers and who find an easy opportunity to make up for the shortfall in their wages, and a breakdown in the continuity of police protection and neighbourly support. Palm Heights which allows easy access to Snug Harbour is the most transient part of the neighbourhood.

    I have had intruders to the exterior of my property and called 911. Sometimes the police did not show up at all . Or it took them several hours to arrive. At one time after Ivan and the MC Restoration armed robbery, I had to catch the intruder myself for the police to take him away. He was a vagrant living on a boat in the canal.

    I saw suspicious activity on Sunday, a car parked on the lot belonging to DART, and watching my house. I evaluated my decision to call 911 or take my machete to bed. I chose the latter since I was tired and did not want to wait hours on police arrival. By the way, I do own a cement mixer and a boat!

    I am impressed and very happy to see the number of police patrolling. Please make sure that policing is done in the middle of the afternoon and evening when most burglaries occur.

Comments are closed.