The hunt is on for a former Courts Furniture Store employee, who has allegedly been pointing out potential victims to the gunmen who have been robbing commercial bank customers.
Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum made this disclosure last Friday, during a week that indicates that police are making some headway in tracking down some of the major players in these attacks.
“We are looking for an ex-employee of Courts, whose role was to trail the commercial bank customers and alert the actual robbers,” Blanhum told Kaieteur News.
“He is known to the group only as ‘Courts Man from over the river.’ His modus operandi is to enter the bank and act in a clandestine manner and then trail his victims on a lady’s motorcycle as they exit the banks.”
The Crime Chief did not say whether the suspect has been operating in specific commercial banks, and how investigators managed to identify him.
All commercial banks have security cameras, which should enable police and bank security personnel to detect any suspicious activity.
Recent attacks suggest that the gangs were focusing primarily on branches of Republic Bank, particularly the Water Street branch.
This had raised concerns that some bank employees might be colluding with the gangs.
However, Blanhum has said that there was “no evidence that bank tellers are involved.”
Last Tuesday, investigators detained an alleged ringleader, and have been granted permission from the High Court to detain him further.
Blanhum revealed that the group leader is fingered in an attempted robbery/murder at Fogarty’s, along with three other matters, where individuals leaving banks with large sums of cash were robbed.
According to Blanhum, the suspect “revealed to investigators that he acted as the facilitator for the group, by providing them with firearms and motorcycles.”
The attempted robbery/murder to which the alleged ringleader has been implicated occurred in October 2016 in a branch of the Electronics City store, which is located in the Fogarty’s building.
A customer, Abdel Odie, had entered the store with about $1.3M that he had withdrawn from Republic Bank. Odie was checking items in the store when another man held him at gunpoint and relieved him of a bag containing the cash.
The robber also shot armed Electronics City store guard, Quacy Anthony Joseph, in the stomach before escaping on a CG motorcycle.
Blanhum had also said that an individual who was recently freed on a murder charge was the mastermind behind similar attacks.
He also stated that police intelligence indicated that the robbers comprised a group of men, who were “randomly selecting their victims.”
The Crime Chief had also said that the gangs have taken the place of several others that the police had disbanded.
“Police have so far disbanded six groups. The perpetrators are now in jail, but more persons are motivated to commit that sort of crime,” Blanhum said.
There have been at least nine attacks on persons leaving commercial banks between May 2016 and January 2017.
Six of the victims, including one woman, were shot during the robberies which were committed by individuals in cars and motorcycles.
Six of the victims had done transactions at the Republic Bank’s Water Street and Camp Street branches.
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