THEFT and robbery became the constant and successive crimes that startled most of the Dabawenyos lately. It has made buzz on social media particularly the recent cases in the Talomo District areas where a big retail store and a service courier provider were ransacked.

However, despite the investigations, police officials have yet to disclose the connections of these hold-up incidents; let alone the root of these crimes.

To recall, last August 31, 2023, unidentified suspects took away P400,000 cash in the Choice Mart robbery incident in Puan, while some undisclosed cash at the automated teller machines (ATMs) at the store was also carted away. 

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) spokesperson PCapt. Hazel Tuazon already stressed that they are now tracking down the persons of interest to strengthen the evidence for a case. Authorities also revealed that the suspects went through the big sewer and destroyed the concrete floor of the pharmacy inside the store.

Subsequently, weeks after the Puan robbery incident, two unidentified individuals entered the J&T Express Office in Barangay Catalunan Grande, Talomo District and proceeded to seize an undisclosed sum of money before making their escape. In a description provided by a witness, armed suspects arrived on a motorcycle. 

Police investigators have yet also to find out the perpetrators.

From going down a manhole to breaking in in broad daylight in the busiest zone of the metropolitan, these burglars really are upgrading, advancing, and evolving. 

In spite of the fact that "theft and robbery" connote different meanings and are used interchangeably, for Dabawenyos, they are just a mere definition of "kawat" which could leave a ripple of negative effects, and question the city’s motto, “Life is Here.”

With the recent robbery and thievery happenings, some citizens of this city have mixed sentiments. 

According to a 26 year old resident in the area who chose not to publicly reveal her name, she now feels unsafe because of the event and even if there were closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in every "kanto" or station, they do not guarantee a full safeguard because culprits are smart and know how to execute wrongdoings.

"Bisag naa pay CCTV sa mga kanto, di gihapon ta magkumpyansa kay hawud kaayo na sila mubuhat og mga di mayo. Maayo unta’g klaro pud ang footage, dili baya (Even though there are CCTVs in every corner, still, we must be vigilant because [these individuals] have the ability to commit such dangerous acts. Adding that that is the poor quality of CCTV footage),” she said.

Asked about the reason why thieves are confident these days, the resident attributed it to the lack or insufficient of high-technologies that could easily trace them.

"Wala tay high-tech na gamit na paspas sila madakan. Unta pati dapat sa suok na mga lugar, nay cameras (We do not have high technologies to catch them quickly. I wish there were cameras even in the remote places),” she added.

San Pedro Police Station PMaj. Marvin Hugos disagreed with the common term “confidence”, saying that criminals just know how to calculate the right opportunities and that they have already planned ahead of time.

"Dili man siguro sa confident. Siguro, nangita lang gyud sila og opportunity to commit crime. That is why continuous mi nga ga-deploy og mga personnel namo. Security is also an individual concern. Maningkamot pud ta nga i-practice ang culture of security (It is not that they are confident. They are just waiting for the right opportunity to commit crimes. That is why, we are continuously adding our personnel. Security is also an individual concern. We should try our best to practice the culture of security), Hugos said.

Meanwhile, when asked whether Davao City is still safe the official confidently answered “yes”.

Sunstar Davao also interviewed a 24 year old BPO employee, resident of Binugao, Toril, who requested anonymity, and he said the presence of Barangay Tanod and other auxiliaries or multipliers is important even in broad daylight. However, he is still unsure if the city's security measures are effective since the crime index is consistent.

"Dapat always, naa tay mga tanod bisag adlaw gyud. Pero sa security measure sa syudad? Dili baya ko sure if natarong ba pag-implement kay ngano padayon man gihapon nga ga-atubang ta og mga krimen sama ani" (We should always have security officials even during the day. But in terms of security measures in the city, I am not sure if they are properly implemented because why are we still facing crimes like this),” he emphasized.

"Night shift akoang trabaho. Naay, panahon nga kulba mulakaw sa dalan na ikaw na isa unya walay ilaw. What if kawatan ko? Naay tanod pero there are times, in fact, many times na gud sya nga ang tanod paspas lang mo-roving (I am working night shift. There are times that I feel nervous while walking down the alley. What if there is a thief? There are security personnel but they do foot patrol so fast),” he added.

In an AFP-PNP Press Corps Southern Mindanao on September 13, DCPO spokesperson PCapt. Hazel Tuazon reaffirmed that the city is still ‘relatively safe’ and that the only way to solve such problems is to check footage of where the incident happened. However, there lies a problem — some establishments opt not to cooperate and this slows down the police’s investigation.

"Ang CCTV dako gyud nang tabang. Naay mga establishments nga naay CCTVs pero dili functional, for compliance lang. Kung dili sila mutuman nga magbutang og CCTV, ato na tang i-analyze if pwede ba nato sya kasuhan sa PNP level or under lang sa city ordinance (CCTVs are a big help. However, there are establishments that have CCTVs but these are not functional, only for compliance. If they do not follow installing CCTVs in their establishments, we will analyze whether we can file charges at the PNP level or at the city level),”  the Tuazon clarified.

Based on police reports from January to September this year, DCPO logged 29 incidents of robbery, 28 of these were cleared, and 23 were solved. On the other hand, the agency noted 40 incidents of theft, 40 were cleared, and 36 were solved.

However, the hysteria that was created because of robbery incidences in Talomo left a negative perception of Davao City’s security culture. And it is apparent in the reactions and comments of Dabawenyos. DEF