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THIS MUST STOP! Restaurant boss says crime wave is like “a cancer”

Tony Crescente is enraged. Masked gunmen invaded his Casanova restaurant, smashed his computer systems and cash register, stole all the cash and disappeared into the night.

“Thank God no one was hurt,” he said, describing himself as “very frustrated” by rising crime and “the growing threat” to tourism, to families and to local businesses.

In Cayman 27 years, Mr Crescente said escalating crime was “the worst I have ever seen”, isolated incidents of vandalism at the restaurant notwithstanding.

Eight customers and 12 staff had watched helplessly on Thursday as the thieves took over, he said. stealing “a couple of thousand dollars”. One table of visitors, “some Americans, left and were not happy.

“We are not in Baghdad,” Mr Crescente said. “We live in a beautiful spot, and unfortunately, this has become a cancer, a serious problem, and it’s too late to fight it with a stick. Something serious has got to be done. This is the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Friday morning police reports said only that, two masked men had entered the restaurant about 10:30pm, “one brandishing a handgun, demanding cash”.

Emptying the cash register, the pair “fled the scene with a sum of money. They were last seen running towards the Rock Hole area. No shots were fired, and no one was injured in the incident,” the report said.

“Both were dressed in dark clothing, wearing masks and white gloves. One of the robbers spoke with what has been described as a Jamaican Cayman accent,” police reported.

“They got a couple of thousand dollars and smashed up a valuable computer system worth about $20,000,” Mr Crescente said. “They came in demanding money and flashing a gun. They threw everything on the floor trying to open the register.

“We have had this problem for years, but crime is growing and the business people in this country are very concerned about it.” “Individuals”, he said, “were helpless.”

“There is really nothing we can do. I have security, sure, but is someone going to risk their life for me for $8, $10 an hour? You are always aware and you do everything you can, but if a guy shows up at the door with a gun, who are you going to be afraid of: him or my security?

“Responsibility starts at the top, with the governor and the police, and goes down from there, and it must be everybody, but I can’t fight it [alone],” he said

Marcus Mueri, owner of Abacus, Prime and Deckers restaurants, shared Mr Crescente’s concerns.

“People don’t care. They think they can get away with it. They walk into a place on Seven Mile Beach, get the cash and then hide in the bushes, and the track record of convictions is not very good,” he said.

“We are absolutely looking for better security, for better patrols. The police have new cars and they should be driving through parking lots, looking into restaurants, really getting in there, in visible places, showing a presence,” he said.

Mr Crescente suggested deployment of three patrol cars with armed officers, slashing response times: “One on Seven Mile Beach, one in George Town and one nearby,” he said.

“That way they can respond quickly and don’t need to go back to the station, get arms out of storage and then return.”

Governor Duncan Taylor told iNews that he was deeply worried, and called on the public to become involved.

“The Governor is appalled by this latest robbery, at Casanova by the Sea restaurant in George Town Thursday evening,” Office of the Governor spokesman Steve Moore said.

“He said that acts such as these are not only despicable and cowardly, but are also a direct threat to our tourism industry. He has spoken to the Commissioner of Police about it and urged him to do all he can to bring those responsible to justice as soon as possible.

“He also would urge anyone in the community who may know something about this and other recent robberies to come forward with information,” he said.

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