7 identified in Bacolod pawnshop heist

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013


BACOLOD -- The heavily armed suspects who robbed F & C Pawnshop and Jewelry Store last Saturday are members of the merged groups of the Acetylene Gang and Ozamiz Group that operate nationwide, police said.

The police said they had also established the identity of seven out of the 12 to 15 suspects in the heist.

Superintendent Santiago Rapiz, spokesman of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), theorized that the two dangerous hold-up groups established contact during the detention of some of their members.

Rapiz said the identification of the seven suspects was established through the footage recorded in the closed circuit TV (CCTV) of the pawnshop, as the suspects bared their faces during the crime without using bonnet or anything to hide their identities.

"We urge everyone to be watchful and vigilant and to immediately report to the police any suspicious-looking persons,” said Rapiz, adding that police believe the suspects are still in the city.

The Acetylene Gang is responsible for last month’s robbery of Prenda Negrense that reportedly carted more than P20 million in cash and jewelry, while the Ozamiz group is responsible for the robbery of Ceneco main office in March 2012.

Rapiz said the two groups have been responsible for other big time robberies in Iloilo, Cagayan, and even in Metro Manila.

The police are expected to come out with the names and photos of the identified suspects within this week. They will also file charges against the suspects within this week.

Rapiz said six suspects entered the establishment first and disarmed the guards and ordered all employees to lie face down on the floor before breaking the glass display and taking all the jewelry. Some other suspects acted as lookouts and directed traffic to clear the escape path for their cohorts.

The police theorized that the suspects have local contacts.

No failure of intelligence

Rapiz explained there was never a failure of intelligence on the part of the BCPO, particularly under his department, as he had already issued a warning to all business establishments in the city about the sightings of alleged members of the robbery group in Dumaguete a few weeks ago.

Earlier, the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) through its president Frank Carbon expressed alarm over the hold-up incidents in the city.

Rapiz said his revelation of the sightings of the suspects two weeks before they struck the pawnshop was misconstrued and was taken lightly.

He said he does not want to make speculations on the update of the investigation by the task group created by no less than Police Region Office-6 director Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz, as his function is merely to act as official spokesperson.

The police official added that he favors tapping the expertise of other law enforcement agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to solve the crime.

Rapiz stressed his style of leadership is more on “hands on” and preventive rather than curative which is the reason why he issued earlier a preemptive warning to Bacolodnons.

Rapiz, meanwhile, refused to comment on the alleged infighting or rift among senior officials of the BCPO which is being blamed for the series of unresolved criminal incidents in just a few months.

Inconsistencies

Rapiz also said that because they found some inconsistencies on the statement of the rent-a-car driver whom they identified as Rodolfo Tambasen, he may be included in the charges to be filed against the suspects.

Tambasen earlier stated that he was hogtied and blindfolded in Barangay 39 before the hold-up, but later said that he was still the one driving the van going to Gonzaga St.

Rapiz said that Tambasen, who hails from Palawan, has been working for the rent-a-car company for only six months.

"He can prove his innocence in court," Rapiz said. (TDE/Sun.Star Bacolod/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 20, 2013.

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