Suspects of jewelry heist inside mall identified, charged

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014


CAGAYAN DE ORO - Two of the 15 suspects responsible for the heist at a jewelry shop inside a mall here on July 22 have been identified and charged with robbery for hauling away P12.5 million worth of luxurious jewelry.

Although still at large, they have been charged by Carmen police on Friday for the court to issue the warrants of arrest of Benjo Bonia of Molave town, Zamboanga del Sur and Jerry "Junjun" Raganas Tulba of Ozamiz City.

The two were identified Friday by the police after series of investigations were conducted by the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office’s (Cocpo) City Investigation and Detective Management Branch (CIDMB) led by Superintendent Adonis Mutia and Carmen police led by Senior Inspector Alfredo Ortiz.

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Chief Inspector Lemuel Gonda, Cocpo's chief of operations division, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Monday evening that there are still 13 other suspects who remained unidentified and scot-free.

The artist's sketch released to the public last July 23 and the footage from the closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera of the mall led to the identification of Tulba and Bonia, Gonda said.

Councilor Ramon Tabor, committee on police, fire, and public safety chair, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that he is optimistic of the arrest of suspects.

"This is a positive development. We get one of them, the rest will follow. The city [police] is doing its best despite being bombarded by criticisms," said Tabor.

Contrary to earlier reports, the management of MLhuillier jewelry shop placed the amount of stolen jewels at P12.4 million, not P5 or P2 million as reported a day after the heist.

[Read P2M lost in Oro mall jewelry heist]

Even before the incident took place, Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares, Cocpo chief, admitted the police received intelligence reports that two jewelry shops and a bank inside the mall were targeted for robbery.

However, the time and place of the robbery was uncertain, thus "the failure to intercept the suspects."

After the heist, Mijares ordered the prohibition of wearing caps, hoods and bags inside establishments to further prevent possible robbery incidents.

Despite moves to replace Mijares from his current post, Mayor Oscar Moreno, in a separate interview, said he is still confident the Cocpo leadership will use its resources to ensure that criminalities are being addressed.

Moreno defended Mijares by saying that replacing him as the city police director will not solve the problem and would be counterproductive.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 05, 2014.

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