Eight church burglaries have been reported within the past two months around Grand Cayman, including two that occurred Wednesday morning, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service confirmed this week.
According to the RCIPS, there have been eight break-ins at church properties since early June. Four have been reported in the eastern districts and four have been reported in George Town.
Pastor Alson Ebanks, vice chairman of the Cayman Islands Ministers’ Association, said there has been recent discussion among the local religious community about the burglaries and a number of concerns were raised.
“Some people discussed how appalled they were that places of worship were no longer sacrosanct,” Pastor Ebanks said. “If those are no longer sacrosanct, then what happens to businesses? We’re concerned about a real deterioration in values.”
“It is a very troubling trend,” he said.
Pastor Ebanks said his Church of God Chapel on Walkers Road has not been broken into recently, but he said the facility has had its safes stolen in the past and, last year, the pastor said he found one trespasser who had broken in to use the bathroom.
Before the rash of break-ins in June, only one church had been burgled during 2018, police said.
In most of the cases, the suspects have take small amounts of cash, though in some instances the churches’ officials were not aware of precisely how much had been stolen.
One man, a 42-year-old Bodden Town resident, has been arrested in connection with a church burglary in July where some electronics were taken.
Churches can be vulnerable to burglars because they are sometimes vacant and those that take collection plates during Sunday services often will not be able to make a bank deposit until the next day.
Pastor Ebanks said, while the Church of God Chapel does have a security system, other smaller houses of worship may not. “Of course, that’s not a guarantee,” he said.
RCIPS community police officers have been hosting meetings with various churches to review security precautions.
Officers asked for anyone with information on the recent church burglaries to contact their district police station, the RCIPS tip line at 949-7777, Cayman Crime Stoppers at 800-8477 or the RCIPS website www.rcips.ky to submit online anonymous tips.