By Paul Kennedy
Four armed robberies, burglaries at a school and a charity, 15 shots fired in a street shoot-out, kilos of cocaine seized and the former head of the police traffic department arrested, for a traffic offence – all this in just a couple of weeks in Cayman.
Temperatures may be rising as summer creeps up on us and so too it seems are the crime stats.
And, don’t forget Customs also arrested a couple for smuggling an exotic animal into the country.
This week alone saw four armed robberies at two gas stations and two general stores. Guns were branded in all four stick-ups.
And on the streets of George Town rival gangs chased each other down firing as they went. One bullet lodged in the mattress in a bedroom as someone slept.
Burglars stooped to a new low – stealing from George Town Primary School and the Meals on Wheels charity.
Police also had to search for one of their own, a serving inspector who disappeared after a car crash. He later handed himself in to cops and was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.
A senior officer with the police service admitted the current crime wave is a worry – and pinpointed drug use and criminals coming out of jail as the main reasons for the spike.
Acting Commissioner of Police Anthony Ennis said: “While we wouldn’t characterise the incidents taken separately, or arguably together, as unprecedented, nonetheless they are worrying, as any crime that impacts public safety and the quality of life of our citizens should concern us all.”
But it’s the gun crime that’s causing the most concern. Thankfully no shots were fired and no one was injured, but in all four armed raids, staff were threatened with firearms.
Unlike the street shootout in George Town when police recovered at least 15 shell casings after a house on Myles Lane was peppered with bullets.
Premier Alden McLaughlin pledged to reduce crime by 60 percent as part of The Progressives manifesto before the elections.
And early Wednesday morning police were told of two more break-ins. One at the Digicel store in George Town where electrical items were stolen and one at a restaurant in Bodden Town where thieves escaped with a television and food.
There’s also been a spate of car thefts. One of the cars used in the armed robberies had earlier been reported stolen, and this week a Kia was taken from South Sound.
Mr. Ennis added: “Central to this is what we see as the persistent cycle of recidivism and persons with substance abuse problems that are committing crimes, including break-ins and robberies, to feed their habits.
“Until we break this chronic cycle that has destroyed so many promising lives, the fact of substance abuse will continue to drive property crime in particular, and pose a serious risk to public safety and national security in general.
“We recognise that this must be addressed on all fronts, including detecting and arresting those involved in the drug trade and illegal possession of firearms.
“Recent arrests have demonstrated our resolve and commitment in this regard along with our other law enforcement partners, particularly the Cayman Islands Customs Department, to tackle these serious crimes at all levels.
“We are also working with the Cayman Islands Immigration Department to ensure that undesirables and those involved in criminal activities do not have a safe sanctuary by residing in our islands.”