Bandits early yesterday morning raided the National Cooperative Credit Union building on Regent and Oronoque streets, where they tied up the night watchman and then helped themselves to seven guns along with ammunition and an undisclosed quantity of cash.
Police said a .32 pistol, a .32 revolver and five 12-gauge shotguns along with 45 cartridges were taken during the raid.
The building also houses the offices of the Caricom Insurance Company, Caricom Cement Company and Caricom Bottling Company, all under the holding company Safeco Incorporated.
A police official told Stabroek News that a man was in custody assisting with investigations.
According to a source, the man in custody is an elderly night watchman who hails from an East Coast of Demerara community. The source also said that the police are currently combing through surveillance video recordings from nearby businesses.
A resident, who lives nearby, told Stabroek News that three young men—one armed with a pistol and the other two with machetes—gained entrance to the building from the western side of the credit union building, sometime around 1:30 AM and then proceeded to swiftly execute the heist.
“The men gained entry through Mr. [name given] yard and cut the grill there and gained entry. The doors of the inside were weak. So, it wasn’t difficult for them to quickly venture through the building, which they did,” the resident explained.
“They tie up [the guard] and threaten he that if he made a sound they would out he lights. That man was real frighten I tell you. So, he wait till he guess they escape and try loosing heself and then call the big man and dem call the police and deh come,” the resident added.
Stabroek News was told that once inside the building, the men used the blow torches they brought in knapsacks to break into a safe that stored the company’s money. It is unclear where the guns and ammunition were stored.
They filled their bags with the guns and cash and made good their escape in a car which was parked a short distance away in Oronoque Street.
A police source said the firearms cache belonged to the company’s internal security.
The amount of arms stolen has raised questions by observers as to why the company would have weapons in a building being guarded by an unarmed man.
“Some companies, to get licensed firearms, register a security company and then they create their own security network. So, it isn’t to open a guard service or anything, it’s really to be able to get licensed firearms,” one observer noted.
The observer said the allocation of licences for security services should be reviewed.
Neighbours say on Tuesday night the telephone lines to the building and others nearby were cut by yet to be identified persons. Residents who called GT&T to notify it of their sudden disconnection were told that the company’s crewmen were not responsible.
They feel that the cutting of the telephone lines were part of a premeditated plan by the bandits to rob the business entity.