Two police patrol cars that were set on fire last week cannot be repaired and will have to be replaced by new vehicles, Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said Friday.

The Ford Interceptor vehicles, which were about to be outfitted with lights and Royal Cayman Islands Police decals, were torched early April 17 inside the security fence at the Vampt Motors Toyota-Ford dealership parking lot on Walkers Road. Two other police vehicles parked right next to them were undamaged.

Damage to one vehicle appeared severe. Damage to the second patrol vehicle was limited to the inside, but was still serious enough to force police to write off the car.

An arson suspect has been arrested, police said last week.

“It’s a very serious attack on the community, on government, on the police services … it was obviously a targeted, criminal act,” Commissioner Byrne said Friday when asked about the incident.

Mr. Byrne said the vehicles were fully insured for the replacement costs – which will be about $95,000 combined – and that new vehicles were already being ordered.

The commissioner said he estimated the order and delivery process to take about “eight to 10 weeks,” but said that time frame was dependent on certain suppliers police do not control.

The April 17 incident was the second time this year that an arsonist targeted vehicles connected with local police. In early February, a senior police officer had two of her personal vehicles burned outside her family’s George Town home. A third vehicle burned in that incident belonged to the senior officer’s next-door neighbor.

The February incident was followed by a string of other car fires, including three that happened on Feb. 14 around Grand Cayman and a fourth on Feb. 17.

The police crime statistics for 2017 reflected a significant increase in the number of arsons that occurred, as well as a sizeable increase in the number of car thefts reported to police when compared with 2016.

Police said there were 28 auto thefts reported for all of 2016, while last year that number skyrocketed to 53.

There were 14 arsons reported last year, compared to just nine in 2016.

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