Burglars bag $2M from Tuschen grocery

– boy, 16, among two caught on tape, arrested 

The early morning burglary of a Tuschen New Scheme, East Bank Essequibo grocery, during which some $2 million in cash was taken, yesterday led to calls for police to take action against mounting crime in the community.

Police have arrested two persons, including a 16-year-old boy, after they were caught on camera bagging the cash shortly after they broke into Clarence Grocery and General Store.

The distraught proprietor, Clarence Cozier told Stabroek News that the breakage had left him in an embarrassing situation because the stolen money belonged to persons he had credited items from. Despite the arrests, he said, three cellular phones could not be accounted for although it is believed the duo escaped with them.

Cozier lives on the flat above his business but was unaware of the break-in until he went to open up around 6 am yesterday.

“When I wake up and come down here, I see the grill break and everything missing,” he told Stabroek News.

He said it was out of frustration after been robbed on several occasions that he decided to outfit his business with surveillance cameras. It appeared that the burglars were either unaware of the cameras or were of the belief that they were not functioning.

The grillwork dislodged from the window the burglars used to gain entry into the grocery
The grillwork dislodged from the window the burglars used to gain entry into the grocery

Stabroek News viewed the 20-minute-long footage of the robbery. It showed the two young men gaining entry through a window on the eastern side of the lower flat of the building at 2:01 am. They immediately made their way to the cash register a few feet away. One of them then returned to the window to retrieve a bag to put the money in. After searching the entire store, the burglars made their way to the business office and continued their plundering and then left.

Cozier said they broke a side window, cut the grill work and entered the shop. They then used a crowbar to force open a door which leads to the office. The crowbar was left at the scene.

The businessman told this newspaper that the footage was clear enough for him to recognise one of the thieves—a 16-year-old boy. Based on the reports received by this newspaper, that person and his accomplice live a short distance from Cozier’s store.

According to Cozier, the boy has been fingered in a number of break and enter cases in the area. He said many reports have been made to the police about this particular teenager and although he is sometimes arrested, “in a day he does get loose.

“I am seeking justice because on the previous robberies I ain’t get no justice although in one clothing and suh were recovered at people home… I still lose it [the case],” he said, adding that that the money stolen represented sales over the long Easter weekend and the worst loss he had suffered during ten years in operation.

Cozier blamed the increase in crimes in the area on young men who are “smoking dope.”

 

Release of suspects

 

 A still from the security footage of the burglary.
A still from the security footage of the burglary.

Shaheed Ahmad, Chairman of the Tuschen Community Policing Group (CPG) told Stabroek News in an invited comment that the high incidence of crime in the area has been raised with the new Divisional Commander, Senior Superintendent Ian Amsterdam, who has made a promise to work with the group’s members to ensure that the neighbourhood is safe again.

Like Cozier, he complained about suspects being released almost immediately. He said that whenever the CPG members make an arrest, “we see them [those arrested] back in the scheme a few hours later.” He added that one of the men identified in yesterday’s break and enter was arrested last week over a $1.5 million theft but he was released. He said that another example where suspects were released without charge was a break and enter committed at the home of Nigel Pollydore.

Pollydore, who lives at Pump Station Street, told this newspaper via telephone that last Monday afternoon thieves got away with about half a million dollars’ worth of household items from his home. He said persons close by identified those who had been fetching away music sets and other articles from his home. Police were directed to the home of these persons and they were arrested along with others. The next day, he said, he saw them on the road. He recalled that he saw them on Monday night and had an exchange of words with them.

According to Ahmad, one of the issues the members of the CPG have raised with the commander is the fact that there are about eight persons who were appointed neighbourhood police and are being paid but are not performing their duties. He said that these persons are supposed to be patrolling the area during the day–when most of the break-ins occur. He said they would just sign in their time at the police station and then go about their personal business without patrolling. He added that CPG members are doing the jobs of the neighbourhood police and still have to patrol at nights. He recalled that they patrolled up to around 10 pm on Easter Monday and noted that had they patrolled a little while longer, the persons who broke in Cozier’s store could have been caught.

Ahmad said that he had full confidence in the new Commander, who has pledged his willingness to work with the CPG members.

According to Ahmad, there are a lot of criminal elements in the community and they usually congregate in an area known as the “Blacka,” where residents have been robbed and, in a few cases, sexually assaulted.

Nevertheless, he said that the police are working well and are very supportive of the CPG. He said that the new commander is doing a lot for the CPG and “got the police busy.”

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