(CNS): Police arrested a suspected teenage burglar yesterday, as officers prioritise their efforts to tackle the crime that continues to cause significant concern for the community. In the crime report published Friday, the RCIPS said that 515 burglaries were reported to the police in 2017, an increase of 17% over 2016. In the latest arrest, a 17-year-old boy from North Side was arrested Monday, 23 April, on suspicion of two counts of burglary, in relation to two incidents in Bodden Town on Tuesday, 13 February. And a 48-year-old man from East End was arrested yesterday in connection to an incident that happened the day before. He remains in custody as the investigations continue.
According to police statistics, Bodden Town saw a significant increase in the number of burglaries and attempted burglaries last year, jumping from 68 break-ins, largely of residential premises, to 156 last year. With the exception of George Town, where there were 290 burglaries and attempted burglaries, Bodden Town was the worst-hit district. During the spring of 2017, a wave of burglaries affected the district and were found to have been committed by the same group of individuals.
But police said that burglaries have impacted all districts, with spikes in certain areas at certain times. Commercial burglaries account for the highest losses, but residential burglaries are more common. The total of break-ins and attempted break-ins last year across all districts in the three Cayman Islands of residential properties was 424, while 179 commercial premises were targeted.
Despite the increase in the crime in 2017 compared to 2016, over the last five years the annual average for both attempted and successful burglaries has been 672. In 2014 there were 699 break-ins and another 77 attempts. While 2016 was the least impacted, with 439 burglaries, the police said it was still far too high given the size of the population.
“Burglary prevention is a central objective of the RCIPS’ new community policing programme and public education efforts,” the RCIPS said in the report. “Burglary detection also forms a major objective within the detective portfolio, with detectives re-deployed to the districts at several junctures in 2017 to investigate crimes and arrest offenders.”
A renewed interest in neighbourhood watch programmes is being capitalised on and facilitated by new beat officers, who are developing relationships with residents in their new areas. Police also stated that a priority of the Community Policing Department in 2018 is to establish new watches in all districts, and the media unit has plans for a sustained crime prevention campaign.
But senior police said these efforts are only part of the answer to a problem rooted in drug abuse, recidivism and social issues that are outside the scope of policing alone. Speaking at the press briefing, Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis pointed out the extremely high recidivism problem Cayman has, especially for this type of crime.
Last year police managed to lay 63 burglary charges. There are currently fifteen people serving prison sentences for burglary, while another six are on remand.