Intel report shows jewelry shop in Oro targeted

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Thursday, July 24, 2014


CAGAYAN DE ORO -- Intelligence report showed that a group of robbers targeted two jewelry shops and a bank inside SM City here.

Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares, Cagayan de Oro police chief, made the statement Wednesday following the MLhuillier jewelry heist inside the mall on Tuesday night.

[READ: P2M lost in Oro mall jewelry heist]

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But Mijares said the information regarding the time and place of the heist was not available, thus "the failure to intercept the suspects."

Asked if the police alerted the establishments and the mall, Mijares said all the station police chiefs knew about it.

“We have this information. But at that time, we cannot confirm it yet. That's why we only have disseminated it to police authorities two weeks ago. This information was disseminated to the lower units. We made sure that this information could reach the concerned establishments,” he said.

Suspect artist sketch
CAGAYAN DE ORO. The artist sketch of one of the suspects in the jewelry heist in Oro mall. (Joey P. Nacalaban)


He added that the station commanders were directed to tighten the security and review the security measures.

“It's standard operating procedures that this information will be received by the establishments so crimes might have been prevented,” he added.

Organized group

Authorities are still looking into the possible groups behind the incident and did not discount the “Martilyo (hammer) gang” operating in Luzon.

"It could be the ‘Martilyo’ gang operating before in Luzon. We're checking if this is the same group, or another group, or if they are the same people who struck different malls in Metro Manila," Mijares said.

"We have already compared the suspects who perpetrated a robbery also in Opol, Misamis Oriental," he added.

The police are also looking into the breakaway robbery group, the Alferez gang, considering the method used.

Oro jewelry shop robber sketch
CAGAYAN DE ORO. City police Director Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares shows the artist sketch of one of the suspects during the media briefing at the Mayor's Office on July 23, 2014. (Joey P. Nacalaban)

This group has been operating in the cities of Cebu, the National Capital Region (NCR) and in others parts of the country.

"That is one thing, but we have to confirm it yet. We are still in the process of referring to our other units. As to the name of the group, we cannot just name this group as the one responsible," Mijares added.

Mijares said four suspects were able to get inside the mall with their firearms "unnoticed."

The pipe wrench and hammer used were bought at a hardware store in the mall around 4 p.m.

"At times, frisking and metal detector are not enough to track down firearms. That time, they were able to conceal their weapons," Mijares said.

"That's what we are trying to coordinate with [the mall's management], to find out how they [suspects] were able to get in," he added.

In a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, a man wearing black shirt, white shorts, and slippers bringing a plastic bag with the wrench and hammer inside it entered at the jewelry shop. Another three men followed.

The CCTV record showed the suspects entered at 7:14:30 p.m. One of them pulled his pistol while the other began smashing the display shelves and hauled all the jewelry they could.

Mijares said the robbers took away P12,000 cash and jewelry with undetermined amount.

“MLhuillier is still assessing the exact amount of the jewelry they took away,” he said.

Councilor Ramon Tabor, chair of the committee of police, fire and public safety, claimed the stolen jewelry could amount to P5 million.

In one minute, suspects were able to finish the robbery, which, Mijares believed, is "well-planned."

"Another two suspects barged at the mall’s entrance near MLhuillier and fired up shots to cause panic among the people. Most probably, they used it to escape from the eyes of the authorities when people are scrambling to go out," Mijares said.

The police released an artist sketch of one of the suspects, described as 30 to 35 years old and 5'5 to 5'6 tall.

Recommendation

Mijares considers prohibiting shoppers wearing ball caps and bags from entering malls.

Media briefing on Oro mall robbery
CAGAYAN DE ORO. City Police Director Graciano Mijares answers questions from the media during a press conference held at the Mayor's Office yesterday, July 23, 2014. On his right is City Administrator Roy Raagas and City Councilor Rodolfo Lao. (Joey P. Nacalaban)


"Or better yet, people who are buying hard tools inside the mall should not be allowed to bring the tool around with them. It should be deposited in the baggage counter," Mijares suggested.

Mijares is optimistic the suspects will soon be arrested.

"We are continuously working on that. We are trading inputs with other units and other personalities. We'll look into proofs. We have to closely work with police offices in the city and our neighboring provinces. Probably, they [suspects] are still inside [the city] that's why we are maintaining our checkpoints," Mijares said.

Strengthening police force

The police chief also admitted that there were no police officers stationed outside the mall. However, police visibility covers the entire uptown community where the mall is located.

"I’ve asked again the chiefs of police in all the stations to review and check the corrective measures of public safety, especially in public places and commercial centers," Mijares said.

He added, "If there's a need of reshuffling [of police officers], we'll do that."

Mijares also called on security personnel of all malls to be extra vigilant.

Oro still safe

As the Kagay-an Festival nears, the City Government has assured residents, tourists and businessmen that Cagayan de Oro City is still safe.

"We are anticipating influx of tourists in the upcoming festival in August. We are very much determined on our plan in the fiesta to heighten the city's security," Mijares said.

City officials are also optimistic that tourism and investments in the city will continue to grow despite the incident.

"Crime prevention is not the sole responsibility of the PNP. Of course, they lack more police but Cocpo is doing its best. Rest assured, even if we have this kind of incident, business, adventure, school and everyone in Cagayan de Oro is safe," said Roy Hilario Raagas, city administrator.

City Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr. is disappointed on the supposed budget allocation for the city's peace and development program the City Council rejected.

“This (budget) would somehow help strengthen the peace and order in the city,” Lao said.

On June 18 last year, seven suspects were able to cart away P35,000 after robbing a branch of a power utility firm in Barangay Carmen.

The suspects were arrested in different raids later. However, most of them were able to post bail. (Mario Manlupig Jr./Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 25, 2014.

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