Organized rob group behind mall burglary?

Photo Courtesy of Jerry Medina via Aksyon Radyo Iloilo

By Jennifer P. Rendon

All factors considered, the burglary at Gaisano Capital mall in Balasan, Iloilo could be the handiwork of an organized robbery group.

Lieutenant Alexander Lauron, Balasan police chief, said the robbery appeared to have been executed professionally by not just run-of-the-mill criminals.

Lauron said they are now coordinating with other police stations in Iloilo province.

“I have also talked to investigators of a police station in Capiz where a similar robbery incident happened last month,” he said.

Lauron said they have also reached out to the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) headquarters and the PNP Regional Intelligence Division (RID) to ask for information about remnants of robbery groups operating in the area.

Initial investigation indicated that at least five persons mounted the burglary but only two persons entered the mall.

“Some helped in destroying the wall and the perimeter fence while others served as spotters,” he said.

Lauron said they are now gathering CCTV footage in certain areas to begin the profiling of persons of interest.

Meanwhile, from an estimated P5 million worth of jewelry and P36,000 cash, F&C Jewelry claimed that it only lost around P3.4 million worth of jewelry and P20,000 cash.

The declaration was made after the police asked the store to submit proof like an inventory of the stolen items to support its claims.

On Wednesday, the store submitted a report with a lower estimate.

Aside from F&C Jewelry, a nearby Vivo phone store is alleged to have lost 24 units of mobile phones amounting to P292,000 while a Samsung stall lost nine cellphone units worth P67,000.

The incident was discovered around 8 a.m. on Dec 5, following the opening of Gaisano Capital mall located in Barangay Mamhut Sur.

Cherryl Mae Caballisa, the mall’s human resource officer, informed the police about the alleged robbery inside the establishment.

Investigation indicated that the burglars passed through the back portion of the mall building by cutting the cyclone wire that served as the mall’s perimeter fence.

The suspects entered through the gape of the cyclone wire and directly went to the building’s fire exit.

Lauron said they could have used a crowbar to destroy the exit door’s knob.

They entered the mall through a hole they dug in the concrete wall.

They could have exited in the same manner and fled via the farmland behind the mall.

Authorities had second thoughts on the value of stolen jewelry declared by F&C Jewelry.

“It’s quite a big amount. That’s why, we are asking them to submit their inventory and invoices and other documents to support their estimate,” he said.

The mall had three night-shift security guards when the burglary happened.

Lauron said police officers also conducted three roving patrols in the area – 10:30 p.m. Sunday and 1:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Monday.

“They did not see anything suspicious. The guards appeared to be at their posts,” he said.

Lauron said they are not discounting that it could be an “inside job.”