The police are investigating an arson attempt aimed at a building on Cummings Street belonging to former army officer Oliver Hinckson, which houses four businesses, after a discovery was made on Sunday night of a five-gallon bottle of gasoline, some of which had been poured on two carpets, following a break and entry and robbery.
Attempts made to reach Hinckson for a comment have proved futile.
Reports are that the building at Lot 101 Cummings Street, Georgetown, which houses Ram’s Pharmacy, Elaine’s Fashions, Cell Shop, and the Lingerie Shop, was broken into. The perpetrator(s) entered through the drug store from where they stole a quantity of drugs, cosmetics and other items, before pouring the fuel.
According to the proprietor of Elaine’s Fashions, he was at home on Sunday night when at around 7 pm he received a call to go down to his store. The man said that on his arrival there he was met with the pungent odour of gasoline and upon further inspection he saw the five-gallon bottle of fuel. He said he was made to understand that the alleged arsonists had clambered atop a shed situated above Ram’s Pharmacy, where the fuel was found. He said the air conditioning unit of the pharmacy was also found on the ground so it would appear that the perpetrators entered the store from there.
The man added too that two carpets, located in the storage room directly above Elaine’s Fashions, which is used by the owners of the Lingerie Shop, were discovered soaked in gasoline, and as a quarter portion of the five gallons of fuel was missing from the bottle it is suspected that the remainder two was what was absorbed in the carpets.
The proprietor explained that when he arrived on the scene the other owners had already arrived, having been signalled by the building’s alarm system that went off. He said it is suspected that the alarm could have been triggered by the “arsonist(s)” attempting to prise open a window to Ram’s Pharmacy so as to better pour the fuel. However, when questioned on whether there was any indication of an attempted forced entry through the window, the store owner responded in the negative.
Shazam Ibrahim, proprietor of the Lingerie Shop and Cell Shop, reiterated the first storeowner’s findings and speculations on the incident, but added that he did not think that there was ever going to be a fire. The owner stated that his suspicion is that someone wanted to scare off the tenants and so staged the arson attempt, “because why would you need five gallons of gasoline to burn a building?”
Both store owners praised the prompt response by the police and the Fire Service, who they said arrived on the scene in record time. They stated that following investigations the two carpets along with the gasoline and other evidence were confiscated by the authorities.
Meanwhile, owner of Ram’s Pharmacy, Lakeram Oudit, who was unavailable for a comment until last night, related to this newspaper that he was on the road when some time after 8 he received a call telling him to go down to the store. The man said that as he was too far away to reach the store on time, he called one of his employees and told him to go ahead and keep him abreast of the situation. Oudit said that when he arrived on the scene he was alarmed to find a number of police officers and fire tenders investigating the matter. He said that initially when he checked and found the locks to his door secured he was relieved, but upon opening the door he was met with the strong odour of gasoline and upon further investigation found his AC vent open and the items missing.
Oudit said that apart from the OTC drugs and cosmetics, he also lost two laptop computers, two flat screen desk top computers, a scanner, a laminating machine and his C-Point and Digicel Top-Up machines, along with over $100,000. In total, he said, he estimated his losses to be over $8 million, since he had recently stocked up for the holidays.
This is not the first time any of the stores is being broken into but it is the first time that there has been an incident like this one. Oudit, like Ibrahim believes that the gasoline pouring was used only as a scare tactic. He is however thankful that there was no fire because he said if that had occurred all of the tenants would have suffered tremendous losses and the houses of those residing nearby could have also been destroyed.