Investigators have detained six persons for questioning in relation to the break and enter of the L. Seepersaud Maraj and Sons jewellery store at the Stabroek Market during which millions of dollars in gold and diamond jewels were stolen.
This is according to a police source who related to Stabroek News that the men were picked up yesterday and were up to last evening being questioned by ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) Major Crimes Unit, which is spearheading the investigation.
However, up to press time, the source said investigators have not gathered any substantial information from the detained men.
While details surrounding the incident remain sketchy, reports had revealed that the robbery is suspected to have occurred sometime on Monday evening.
The multi-million dollar heist has placed security provided by both the City Constabulary and a private firm under scrutiny.
Ram Maraj, one of the proprietors of the business had related to Stabroek News on Tuesday that the last check on the stall was made around 9 am on Monday which was a holiday.
Ram, who could not give an estimate of the losses, had said he learnt of the break-in after receiving a call from a fellow vendor around 7 am Tuesday.
He noted that the bandits gained entry into the stall by piercing the padlock on the grillwork. Once inside, they used a torch to burn out the combination locks to a vault. “They cut the lock and they jump over. But coming into the shop is not the problem but getting into that [the safe] is the issue,” he related.
According to Ram, there are three layers of security before one can gain access to the vault. “…So I don’t know how this was so possible given the amount of time. They had to have a lot of time to get this done,” he had added.
Meanwhile in a statement posted to its Facebook page on Tuesday evening, the store said the police recovered tools which included blow torches and other chemicals used.
“The vault had three (3) doors and each door was cut with precision. It is sufficient to say that the perpetrators of this crime aren’t novices, but highly skilled thieves,” it noted, while pointing out that several security specialists and others trained in ironwork and welding who were consulted indicated that it would have taken “no less than five (5) hours for the vaults to be cut open.”
Additionally, the store, which has been in business since 1935, said two city constables claimed that checks were done earlier in the market but nothing was discovered.
It was also noted that the store, which is found under the iconic clock in the Stabroek Market, was secured with an alarm system that was being monitored by the MMC Security Force and the alarm was set off three times on Monday night. “However MMC never informed us or the police that the alarms went off. On every other occasion, whenever the alarm is set off, MMC would call us immediately and the fact that we never received any calls or reports from them is puzzling,” the store added.
Contacted for a comment on this yesterday, MMC Security Force Operations Manager said that the company was working to put a press statement together. However, up to press time, no statement was received by this newspaper.
“As stall owners operating under market rules, we have no choice but to depend on the City Constabulary for security whenever the market is closed. At the time of writing this, we have not been contacted by anyone from the Mayor and City Council’s Office or the Town Clerk’s Office. We are surprised at the lack of care and diligence by the City Constabulary in not observing that such an elaborate crime was being perpetuated over so many hours,” the store also said.
It is unclear if there was any surveillance footage which might have captured the break-in.
Chief Constable Andrew Foo had told Stabroek News that the City Constabulary learnt of the break-in between 9.30 and 10 am Tuesday.
Foo had said that no report of the break-in was made to the constabulary as the victims called the police. However, he noted that the constabulary still has a responsibility to investigate. “We have a responsibility to conduct our internal investigation. The Guyana Police Force is in charge of this investigation because of its nature,” he said.