– praised for quick action
Six heavily armed gunmen yesterday stormed Guyana Stockfeeds office at Farm, East Bank Demerara escaping with over $10 million following a five-minute rampage, but quick police work saw the arrests of eight men and a woman, suspected to have played a part in the robbery.
Some of the stolen loot was recovered as well. A customer is suspected to be the mastermind of the well planned attack during which staff were held at gunpoint and a guard disarmed. The attack occurred at about 1.15 pm.
The police said in a statement last evening that investigations revealed that six men, two of whom were armed with shotguns and the others with handguns, entered the business premises and held up Loraine Adams, the private security guard who was on duty, and took away her .38 Taurus service revolver with six rounds. The men then took her inside the building where they held accounts clerk Seepaul Khaloo and seven other employees at gunpoint.
“The armed perpetrators then took away six deposit bags containing a total of $10,582,600 which was intended to be taken to the bank along with personal cash, cell phones and other valuables from the employees and escaped in a waiting motor car,” the statement said.
The police said anti-crime patrols were alerted through the radio network and roadblocks were established at strategic locations. “Quick response by the police acting on information received subsequently led to the arrest of four suspects at the Diamond Sea Dam area in whose possession was found a sum of cash, suspected to be part of that stolen. Further investigations resulted in the arrest of a woman at Grove Housing Scheme, EBD, whose motor vehicle PMM 5295 has also been detained by the police, and the arrest of two other men at Grove Housing Scheme,” the statement said.
“The police maintained dominance of the area and later recovered another sum of money in a yard at Cinema Street, Diamond, EBD, and arrested two more men who were found hiding among some bush in a swampy area at Diamond,” it added.
The police said the car suspected to have been used by the perpetrators in their getaway after the robbery, PMM 9668, was found abandoned on the roadway at School Street, Diamond Housing Scheme. A 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun along with four matching cartridges and a laptop computer were recovered in the vehicle.
When Stabroek News arrived at the scene of the robbery, policemen were already there taking statements and conducting other aspects of their investigations. Persons there declined to speak to members of the public about the incident.
Later, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Robert Badal told Stabroek News that six heavily armed men had pulled up in a white car which stopped at the entrance to the compound. He said the men went through the gate and ordered several security guards there to lie on the ground. “Those people were so brazen they just pulled up in front of the gate,” the businessman said.
The gunmen then took away a gun from a Securicor guard before entering the Accounts Department where they held the staff at gunpoint before taking away the day’s sales.
During the ordeal, no one was injured and according to reports the men then calmly re-entered the waiting car which sped off. The vehicle’s licence plate number was relayed to the police.
Meanwhile, an employee recounted the men walked through the front gate, held up the security guards and instructed them to lie down in the guard hut.
He said the men, two of whom by this time had tied their faces with handkerchiefs approached the Accounts office which is a few feet from the guard hut.
The employee said too that the gunmen robbed the staff in the Accounts Department of their personal belongings. Stabroek News was told that the well dressed men calmly walked out of the compound with a duffle bag containing their weapons and the stolen loot.
Yesterday, the police came in for high praise from Badal who said that within minutes of him making a report they had cordoned off parts of the East Bank and in less than two hours suspects were held.
“I am praising them because when I called minutes later they said that the entire area on the East Bank was cordoned off. With an hour to an hour and a half they managed to round up guys [suspects]…The police acted swiftly,” the grateful businessman told Stabroek News.
Badal agreed that the gunmen had inside information noting that they knew where to go to get the money. He explained that a man who usually bought stock feed had been identified as being among the bandits. Badal could not say if he was among those caught later by police.
“I don’t know how much you can do to improve security.
When six men with guns come, what security can you have?” the businessman said when asked what will be done to improve security.
This is the first armed robbery at the company he said. “Armed robbery is an every day occurrence,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, residents of Diamond New Scheme reported to Stabroek News that the police inflicted a severe beating on a man suspected to have been part of the gang who invaded Guyana Stockfeeds. This newspaper was told that some of those in custody were cornered on the Diamond sea dam and later one of the men was taken aback of the scheme near the cane fields.
When this newspaper arrived at the location, two pickups and a police car were about to drive off. A man in a crouched position was visible at the back of one of the pick ups.
One man insisted that the police taken a man into the area just before 3 pm and stayed about 15 to 20 minutes at the location. According to the resident, the man was hollering and the police could be heard asking, “is whey de res deh?”
He said he could not make out what the man’s response was but he “din getting plenty licks and hollerin”.
Another resident said, “Me thing is dat, dis is not the way to conduct yourself man. If you suspect he do something tek he to de station. He suppose to be at the station not at de back of Diamond Scheme.
“Yuh see why people don’t get respect for the police…. Yes is a robbery yes but you can’t beat up people for information.”
The residents added that the police likely chose that area because it is quiet during the day and few people are home.
The police said that investigations are continuing.