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.