(CMR) The Cayman Islands Red Cross Thrift Shop in George Town has seen an increase in theft and burglaries recently. Persons have entered the property, raided donations, and left a mess, including human excrement and urine.
The theft has escalated over the past month, with criminal damage occurring on the Red Cross trailer that is used for sales and collections, and various locks have been destroyed. There have been several instances over the Holiday Season where unknown groups of males have forced entry into the Red Cross storage container and stolen donations made by members of the public.
All of the incidents were recorded on the Red Cross CCTV and reported to the RCIPS. On one occasion, a male was observed to be filming the general area on his mobile device, which raises fears that there might be an attempt at gaining entry into the main Thrift Shop in the near future.
The latest major incident that occurred resulted in two males being detained by RCIPS on Saturday, 7th January 2023. However, this did not stop the burglars from coming back, and in the past week, there have been numerous thefts from the donation box overnight.
CMR has been informed that Cuban migrants are responsible for a number of these incidents; however, the police have not confirmed this.
The Red Cross said volunteers have to regularly clean up the aftermath of these raids, which includes donations being thrown on the parking lot floor, as well as human excrement and urine, which poses a significant health risk to the volunteers.
“It is a shame that we have to put our volunteer's safety at risk in the wake of these incidents. This reduces the amount of effort our volunteers can put into making sure the Thrift Shop is kept clean and tidy for the benefit of the whole community,” said the Cayman Islands Red Cross Director, Jondo Obi.
“It’s important to understand that many of the donations made to the shop are given free of cost to vulnerable persons in need of assistance. Stealing these donations is impairing our ability to provide items to those who need them the most,” explained Obi.
The Red Cross Thrift Shop has become an important source of assistance for vulnerable persons. The Red Cross works closely with several government agencies and NGOs, such as the Needs Assessment Unit, Immigration Detention Centre, Cayman Border Control, Family Resource Centre, CI Crisis Centre, CI Baby Basics, and more, who refer their vulnerable beneficiaries to the shop.
Persons who are referred to the Thrift Shop are given access to Shop goods free of cost to them. In 2022, Two hundred and fifteen (215) vulnerable persons were assisted with items from the shop free of cost.
The Red Cross is asking members of the public not to leave donation bags outside the shop outside the drop-off hours (as published on the Cayman Islands Red Cross Website) as those donations will be stolen and vandalized overnight. It is also possible to schedule a pickup of large donations by contacting the Shop at (345) 949SHOP or Email: [email protected]
In response to the increased incidents of trespass, the Cayman Islands Red Cross is looking to strengthen the security of its premises by installing enhanced security fencing and will launch a fundraising appeal to members of the public.
“We are determined to ensure that our volunteers, our beneficiaries, and the wider public feel safe and secure in the Thrift Shop premises,” said Obi, “We appreciate the public’s support in helping us to achieve this.”
For more information on how to support the appeal please contact the communications and relationships manager at (345) 9383317, [email protected]