Five motorbike riders in court, five bikes returned

Although no convictions have been recorded in Cayman Islands Traffic Court, five defendants are facing charges of either dangerous driving or unqualified driving following a recent crackdown on non-street-legal motorbikes, police said.

The five people before the court, along with a number of others, had their vehicles seized by Royal Cayman Islands Police officers who were investigating the cases. The RCIPS has seized 24 dirt bikes or motorcycles during operations since December.

The police service said last week that five of the confiscated bikes have been returned to their owners.

“We cannot retain the defendant’s property indefinitely as a given case moves through the entire court process,” a statement from the RCIPS Traffic Unit sent Thursday read. “We have the ability to retain the property while the case is being investigated and the property is germane to those inquiries. Once those inquiries have completed, the property is returned on the defendant’s request.”

Four of the five suspects were arrested since December on allegations of dangerous driving, as well as traffic offenses such as driving while disqualified, having no vehicle registration or expired registration, or driving without insurance.

The fifth suspect was ticketed for driving without being qualified and using an unregistered vehicle.

One of the five suspects is facing more serious charges in criminal court, so his Traffic Court matters are awaiting the outcome of the other cases.

RCIPS spokesperson Jackie Carpenter said the police service is still storing the remainder of the seized bikes and said the department believes its enforcement strategies are leading to fewer illegal vehicles on the streets.

She said the department has recorded “substantially fewer” complaints about rowdy or non-street-legal motorbikes since December.

The police enforcement effort was stepped up after a number of residents complained late last year when a Sunday afternoon “ride of the century” turned into chaos with more than 100 motorcycles, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles – some street legal, some not – took to the streets around Grand Cayman, blowing through stop lights and endangering other drivers.

On the other hand, the RCIPS Traffic Unit is also aware of some residents’ requests for a “safe place” to use dirt bikes off-road.

During police operations earlier in the year, traffic unit Inspector Ian Yearwood noted that officers spoke with some individuals who had hitched their motorbikes to trailers and were taking them to the “marl pit” in George Town for some off-road riding.

Inspector Yearwood said police have no problem with that as long as the vehicles are operated on private land with the permission of the land owner.

Police also spoke to parents of the motorbike riders and discussed the possibility of opening some sort of public space off-road where bike riders can use their unregistered vehicles.

However, discussions to this effect have so far not borne fruit.

“Nobody wants to give up the land, nobody wants the liability,” said Keith Keller from the Cayman Islands Motorcycle Riders Association.