Almost a month after three persons were robbed on the East Bank of millions of dollars by men dressed as police officers, one of the victims maintains that the perpetrators were actual officers and not mere impersonators.
Parmanand Teekaram, 39, of 52 Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara said… “I can’t feel that it’s civilian robbing people; it has to be police. These persons have police uniform.” Teekaram, a taxi driver, said the uniforms seemed very authentic. “Everything was correct; it’s just that the man with the blue and black uniform didn’t have on a badge but everything else was down to the tee.”
Teekaram also opined that security was a major issue for persons travelling to and from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri and said that there ought to be more police patrols. According to Teekaram, the distances between police stations are great and allow bandits to make easy getaways.
“Officials don’t do nothing for ordinary citizens them,” the man lamented. He continued, “I’ve heard talks about 24 hour patrols but I’ve almost never seen anything like that.”
Noting advice from Crime Chief Leslie James on protecting oneself from fake cops, Teekaram pointed out that it is extremely difficult to distinguish regular persons from the “real deal,” especially from afar and at night. “When you stop and these people have guns, there’s nothing you can do after that,” he said.
He went on to say that many officers’ use of unofficial vehicles makes it difficult to identify them. He explained that oftentimes he would see officers stepping out of private vehicles and not police vehicles and, since this is a norm, he was not concerned when he had been stopped several weeks ago.
Teekaram further said that he is fearful for his life, especially since his black wagon is easy to identify.
Meanwhile, an identification parade was conducted on Saturday, the man said. However, he added, none of the persons looked familiar.
Earlier this month, Teekaram along with Latchmin Gopaul, the owner of the Academy of Excellence at Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara and her husband, were heading to the CJIA when, in the vicinity of Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara they came upon what appeared to be a routine traffic exercise. This was sometime before noon.
According to the driver, one of the “officers” was clad in all-black while the other had on a blue and black police uniform. The “black clothes,” he said, had a long gun and the other man a small, handheld gun.
“They said that they had a call that I hit someone and drove away,” Teekaram said. He went on to say that the men checked the car for dents as well as his documents. They also questioned the wagon’s occupants about whether any of them was a licensed firearm holder before taking the vehicle’s key and driving to a secluded area.
There, Teekaram and the Gopauls were tied up and relieved of their valuables. The car was also taken but was later recovered nearby. With the help of passing civilians, the trio was freed.
In an interview with Stabroek News, James said that the instances of police impersonation are of concern to the police and urged the public to be vigilant when travelling.
Over the years there have been many similar cases. Last month, two priests and a brother along with their Guyanese hosts were on their way from CJIA when they were stopped and later robbed by men posing as police officers.