The owners of two business establishments were counting their losses yesterday afternoon after bandits relieved them both of undisclosed sums of cash and escaped with ease.
When Stabroek News arrived at the Rubis Gas and Service Station on Vlissingen Road and Eping Avenue, the second of the businesses robbed yesterday, ranks from the Guyana Police Force were taking statements from the visibly shaken staff.
It should be noted that it was the gas station’s mini mart which was robbed.
According to the mini mart’s supervisor, the robbery took place around 16:45 hrs and was perpetrated by two men. One of the men, she said, was about 6’ 2” and had a visible tattoo. The other perpetrator, she said, was about 5’ 4”, and wore a helmet.
The supervisor said both men entered the establishment pretending to be customers, but that their behaviour led her to suspect that they were shoplifters. She said that the shorter man stayed at the door, while the other perused the various aisles.
Neither of the men said a word, the supervisor said, so when the taller man stopped to examine a wine stall, she decided to ask him what he was looking for and was told that he was looking for wine.
She then decided to ask him what kind of wine he needed, but instead of answering, the man recommenced his perusal of the mini mart. It was at this point, she said, she felt that something was very wrong.
The woman said that the man proceeded to the mini mart’s general office where a cashier and the supervisor for the pump attendants were situated. The woman said that when the man entered the room she tried to leave to get help. But by then the man at the door was keeping it closed and he pushed her back saying, “nobody ain’t going nowhere”.
The woman said the man kept one of his hands in his shirt, attempting to suggest that he was in possession of a weapon. She said though, that the shirt he was wearing allowed her and others to see that he was unarmed. She said though, that they still heeded his instructions since he was considerably large in build. She said that she, a cashier, and a Chinese national were in the mini mart while this was occurring.
Several persons reportedly approached the mini mart to enter but turned away after they noticed the man at the door. None of them, Stabroek News was told, seemed to realise what was going on.
As this was occurring the other perpetrator was demanding the cash from the employees in the general office. The supervisor said that the man entered the room then extracted a handgun from a backpack he was wearing. After retrieving his gun, the man reportedly placed the bag on the table and demanded money. The supervisor said that the man placed the gun to the head of the one of the women in the office and asked her to hand over the bag. The woman reportedly asked the man what bag he was referring to, and was told “the bag with the money.” Both women reportedly stayed silent at this, which, Stabroek News was told, prompted the gunman to discharge two rounds in the air.
The supervisor said that both women, obviously frightened by this threatening gesture, told the gunman they were not familiar with the office, and the person who would know where the money was kept was outside.
Upon hearing this, the man left the other two women inside the general office and came in search of the supervisor, calling her by name. He then took her into the office and demanded she show him where the money was being kept. She said that as he was making his demands, he kept pointing the gun in different directions, as if he was beginning to get anxious. The woman said that she pleaded with the man not to hurt anyone and then handed over the money.
She said though, that for some reason the man was convinced that there was more money for the taking and began rummaging through desk drawers in search of cash. After he found nothing, he then returned to outside, where he relieved the Chinese national of his iPhone and a large sum of cash.
The men then reportedly calmly exited the mini mart, mounted a motorcycle, licence plate CF 1036, and made good their escape. The station’s concession area has approximately 8 cameras but none of them were functioning at the time owing to a blackout. The supervisor said the lights returned just as the men walked through the door, but they did not get a chance to boot up the surveillance system.
The supervisor said that she, as well as a cashier attempted to call the police during the ordeal but were unsuccessful. In her case, she said that she decided against calling and chucked the phone, which landed near a cashier. She said the cashier picked up the phone and was about to dial when one of the assailants asked her if she was attempting to set off a secret alarm.
She added that the men seemed familiar with the layout of the mini mart, as the taller of the two navigated it with ease.
The ordeal is said to have lasted approximately 15 minutes.
The second robbery, which took place at the Akbar Auto Sales and Furniture Store on North Road, lasted just under seven minutes, according to one of the persons who works at the establishment.
Stabroek News was told that two men, one of them armed with a gun, walked into the building like normal customers. The employee said the men went into an office on the top floor of the building, asking where they could find the cashier.
After the men were given directions, they placed the two employees who were in the office to lie on the floor and told them not to move. Stabroek News understands that the men then went into the room where the cashier functions, brought her out and placed her to sit in a chair as her fellow employees lay on the floor. As the armed assailant kept the gun on the three employees, the second man retrieved an undisclosed sum of cash from the cashier’s work station.
The men then calmly made their way to the bottom floor and out of the building. One of the employees said that there were two security personnel on the bottom floor before and during the robbery, but they were oblivious to what was going on until she raised an alarm in the intercom. By this time, the men had already left. Another employee peeked through the window and saw one of the men walking east along North Road, just before he turned in Cummings Street.
The top floor of the establishment also has a camera trained on the stairs which the assailants used to access the top floor. It is uncertain however, if the camera was operational.