School teller tagged in dawn heist released

THE Theft and Robbery Section (TRS) arrested a teller of the University of San Carlos-Talamban Campus after she and an unidentified companion allegedly carted away P4.8 million worth of school proceeds.

SPO1 Mark Petonio, team leader of the TRS in the Cebu City Police Office, told SunStar Cebu that the March 21 heist was an inside job.

"Limpyo pagkatrabaho (It was orchestrated)," he said.

However, the 58-year-old teller, who has been working for the school for 37 years, was released yesterday when no case was filed against her after the 72-hour reglamentary period lapsed.

PO1 Alcendor Suico, Talamban Police Station desk officer, said they retrieved a security camera footage showing two persons wearing masks, gloves, thick jackets and black shoes entering the Bursar's office at 1:35 a.m.

One of them took a blazer from a nearby chair and draped it around the security camera, while the other opened the wooden cabinet with keys that had been left behind by guidance counselor Abigail Laurente, Suico said.

The other acted as lookout while the other opened the vault inside the cabinet. The latter took out the money placed it inside a white sling bag.

"With an intent to gain, the thief took the school proceeds and transferred it to a handybag," Suico said.

The thief then wiped the keys clean with a face towel and left these on the table.

Based on their investigation, the teller and a co-worker said that the vault's master lock was no longer used because they had forgotten the password.

However, colleagues identified the former as one of the masked thieves based on her body movements, as shown on the security camera footage, Petonio said.

The teller denied the allegation, saying she didn't know the two masked thieves.

The school or the police have yet to recover the money.

Last Wednesday, Fr. Generoso Rebayla Jr., USC-TC vice president for finance, went to the TRS to act as the complainant accompanied by the school's legal counsel.

"The university is saddened by this incident. We leave it to the police to pursue the case, and trust they would resolve it soon," said Cerwin Eviota, USC communication consultant.

The school provided the police with the security camera footage and facilitated the statements of the staff on their observations, which led to the arrest of the teller.

However, the school's legal counsel advised against the TRS' request to present the case as a citizen's arrest, after the TRS insisted that the teller's detention be deemed as one, Eviota said.

The TRS and the USC are coordinating to pursue the case of qualified theft against the teller and to identify the other thief.
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