Life on small islands usually bears little reflection of how citizens of the same country experience their daily lives just a few nautical miles away on the mainland. Key West is no exception. With an area of just seven and a half square miles and a population of twenty four and a half thousand, it is very much its own microcosm. The pace of life is slow, its inhabitants are laid back, class backgrounds and socioeconomic disparities pose no barrier to socialising together. Miami, famed city of vice and ginger haired serial killers, is three-and-a-half hours by car and 40 minutes by plane, but it may as well be on a different planet.
It should not come as a surprise that Key West criminals are a very special breed with their own set of priorities and particular ways of doing things. My friends, who I’m staying with here, told me of a recent bank robbery, where the robbers were discovered just a few blocks away from the crime scene, in a local bar, having a drink, the holdall stuffed with cash right beside them. I’d like to think that the round was on them, and that the cops stayed for a couple of cool ones before making their arrests.
Besides hearsay and local anecdotes, there is a much more authoritative source of criminal activity on the island – let me introduce you to the trusty Key West Citizen:
Every day, The Citizen features a Crime Report section. Here is a sample of the headlines and articles that have appeared since I got here on Jan 15th:
This one is my absolute favourite so far:
Yes, a broken window was the crime of January 20th. An antique broken window, if you please.
I’ve highlighted the amusing passage in the last two pieces: