Although most would claim that I am extremely fortunate to reside in a “quiet, crime free” country like the Cayman Islands, in recent years this status has been greatly affected; and many, young and old are adapting their lifestyle and habits in an attempt to accommodate the rising crime levels.
Recently, in my homeland, we have seen an influx in robberies and even violent crimes; namely, missing persons and weekly armed robberies which always remain unsolved. For a country with a population of less than 50,000; you could imagine how this would affect our society!
We are known for our amazing beaches, relaxing atmosphere and friendly community, but recently many of our tourist reviews have been flooded with negative commentary due to the rising crime levels, inclusive of tourists being robbed at beaches and visitors being stabbed and so on. This has caused the income generated from our tourism industry to decline causing lay-offs and additional unemployment, in turn creating further strain on our community.
Another consequence brought about has been much paranoia, which I myself has been affected by. Just recently my family reported me missing after being unable to reach me via cell phone for a 24 hour period, needless to say I had much explaining to do to them, the general public whom had already been alerted via Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger and the investigating officers in order to clear up that mess! Less than five years ago our community was never in such a stir, but with two other women missing (one of which the police had had no leads for and has been missing for almost one year!) my family refused to take chances and immediately took action.
My country, the three small dots in the Caribbean Sea known as the Cayman Islands that your weather report probably does not even pick up on the map, is by no means a comparison to what others might be used to as a way of life amidst crime, whether petty or beyond, there is a universal truth that all communities face when affected by individuals who insist that the law is not directed to them, we have to change and adapt our lives and schedules in an effort to be safe and not be affected, either robbed, mugged, raped or murdered amidst such happenings. Unfortunately although our largest island is only 76 square miles we have seen such horrid crimes as the shooting and killing of a four year old boy, the brutal rape of a five year old girl and the abduction, rape and murder of a women’s rights activist.
Now, with being such a small community, usually such violent crime affects almost everyone, you are either related or acquainted with the victim or the criminal, which also takes its toll because it causes community division and hostility. Many persons have now begun to carry (though illegal) small knives or home-made pepper sprays as protection “just in case”; and businesses are implementing more advanced security systems and night guards in an effort to deter would-be criminals from their premises.
Of course, with the statistics and just being someone who keeps a keen eye on the news and happenings, it can be pinpointed that the sudden surge of criminal activity has taken place since the “recession”, which we were by no means spared from either. Many persons lost their jobs and our welfare budget has begun to get stretched thin. Many individuals who were once small time drug-dealers or even with lower-end employment such as laborers and bus drivers were hit hard, but unfortunately when your income changes your expenditures often do not change to accommodate and many once well-meaning individuals began to do what they felt necessary to survive.
In conclusion, this is definitely evidence that whether you live in the big city or a small Caribbean “paradise” like the Cayman Islands, crime and the fear of it once rearing its ugly head will affect you, your family, jobs and the community at large, and unfortunately even with as much police force as can possibly be reinforced it is often extremely difficult to get grips on such a situation once it has slipped out of hand and we as community members are forced to adapt our daily lives in effort to stay safe.