-residents protest slow police response
Six gunmen yesterday invaded a Maida, Corentyne home, beating the family and robbing them of cash and jewellery worth millions even as the police did not answer frantic phone calls and responded more than half an hour after the bandits had left.
This caused residents to protest at the Whim police station.
“I call police and holler for help but nobody! Nobody didn’t come,” Noonwattie Pooran, 45, of Maida Farm told reporters. Stabroek News was told that at about 2:30 am yesterday, six men armed with guns invaded the Pooran’s home at Lot 47-48 Maida Farm and stole approximately $3 million and jewellery worth $1 million.
During the ordeal which lasted for about one and a half hours, the gunmen fired several shots and threatened to kill Latchman ‘Anil’ Pooran, 42, a large-scale rice vendor. Fearful for his life, Pooran jumped approximately 10 feet off his front veranda and scaled a fence that is estimated to be seven feet high and topped by barb and razor wires, to escape from the men. Pooran however, sustained several injuries and was admitted to the Anamayah Memorial Hospital.
It is not the first time the family was robbed and the invasion of their heavily-secured home left the family shocked. Noonwattie recalled that they were awakened by unusual noises on their premises. “I heard the dogs bark, something break and a sound like a gunshot and I turned and wake up Anil. I tell he put on the camera [monitor for the surveillance cameras] and we saw four men coming up the stairs,” she recounted. The woman said that after they saw the men coming upstairs, she sounded an alarm.
The bandits also had with them two 4×4 posts and used these to smash open a glass door at the rear veranda. Hearing the noise, Noonwattie said, they quietly walked out to the front veranda in a bid to get to safety.
The men were experiencing difficulty in entering the home. Noonwattie recalled hearing the men saying that they could not find an entry point into the house. Stabroek News observed that the family’s home was indeed tightly secured as there was an iron grille over two wooden doors which was locked with top-of-the-line security padlocks.
The men subsequently broke a window that was located next to the door but were hampered by the wooden bars and an iron grille that secured it. However, eventually they broke the wooden bars and bent the iron grille and entered. Noonwattie related that the family had recently spent over $1.5 million to install the glass windows and door on the rear veranda.
The mother of three lamented that as they hid on the veranda, they made numerous calls to the Whim police station but got no response. “I call police and holler for help but nobody! Nobody didn’t come,” she said. Neighbours present at the scene related that after they heard the family’s cries for help, they too made several calls but could not get on to the police. Many residents said that they refrained from helping the family as the men were heavily armed and had been firing shots wildly.
Noonwattie further recounted to the media that the determined bandits took almost an hour to gain entry into the house. Upon their entry, she said, they searched the rooms but could not find anyone. They then called out to her husband. “Anil if yuh na come out, we gone kill yuh,” she recounted one saying, adding too that while they called out for her husband, they fired their guns. It was at this point, she said, that Pooran fled for his life.
Stabroek News learnt that as three men entered the home, the other three stood guard at different points on the premises. After the bandits found Noonwattie and two of her sons on the veranda, they brought them into the living room and demanded cash. “They slapped me and asked us for the money…a bag had $2 million was next to the chair and we gave them…” she stated.
The woman recalled that the bandits were not satisfied and demanded more. “They hit my small son in his back and asked for more. Another bag had $1 million…and we gave them,” the mother said.
During the ordeal, the bandits ransacked two bedrooms and collected the jewellery. As they searched through the rooms they ripped apart a wardrobe and also slashed the wires connected to the surveillance camera’s DVR and took away the DVR.
Noonwattie said that although the bandits had millions of dollars, they still wanted more and threatened to shoot her in the eye. “I said ‘buddy you broke the wardrobe and took everything, we give you all the money, we don’t have anything else’… I turned and tell he ‘look how much you have and you still want more?’ I fall at his feet and beg for our life,” the woman recounted.
Realising that they could not get anything else, the bandits escaped, heading west of the house and through a dam that leads to the backlands. Stabroek News understands the police arrived on the scene approximately half an hour after the men had fled.
A stunned Noonwattie said that she never expected that they would have ever experienced a robbery of this nature since their house is well secured. “We have cameras, [dogs and the house is grilled] and they still rob us…to see thief-man do this to you is best you make a hut and live inside and eat,” she said.
Stabroek News was told that prior to the robbery, about two weeks ago, four men were seen standing in the vicinity of the premises. Pooran had reported the matter to the police.
Following the failure of the police to respond promptly to the robbery, residents protested in front of the Whim police station at about 2pm yesterday. The residents called for Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee as well as officers from the Whim police station to go. The protest was supported by the Alliance For Change. Another protest is planned for today in front of the Whim police station.
Stabroek News learnt that this is the third time the family has suffered from a robbery. In 2009, Pooran was robbed of $2.6 million in cash and jewellery at around 3:30am after he got up to check his truck at Bush Lot, Corentyne. The second robbery occurred three years ago, also in the night. Pooran was robbed of a quantity of cash and brutally beaten by the bandits. As a result, he installed twelve surveillance cameras.