Bandits rob rice miller's home of $2M in cash and jewellery

by Kim Lucas
Guyana Chronicle
September 4, 1999

ANIL SINGH: This brave youth risked his life, fought the bandits and ran for help.

FOUR masked and heavily armed bandits raided the home of West Coast Demerara rice miller Bhagwandin Madho and carted off close to $2M in cash and jewellery on Thursday evening.

The Police said three men have been arrested and are in custody assisting with investigations.

According to Madho's wife, Gomatie, the men attacked their Crane, Old Road, residence at about 18:50 hours Thursday, while she and one of their employees were in the kitchen.

She said her husband, also an exporter, was in the upper flat watching television and saw the bandits alighting from a white car, which sped off immediately after the drop-off.

However, before Madho could alert his wife about the impending attack, the bandits were already in the family's kitchen.

The woman said the house was open at the time, and their two sons were at the rice mill.

Anil Singh, 20, who lives and works with the family, had just finished his dinner when he spotted one of the bandits through the open kitchen window.

One of the masked men had a weapon pointing through the opening, but the youth jumped through the window, throwing the bandit off balance, and escaped.

The young man said when he neared the gate, another armed man tried to block his exit, but the youth grabbed at the bandit's gun and "shove him in a corner". He ran out of the yard and alerted the Police.

Mrs Madho said her attackers, each armed with a "fat" and "long" gun, then took her upstairs and demanded that she open the safe and give them all the money and jewellery.

Her husband was ordered to lie on his stomach and the bandits upturned one of the sitting room's chairs over him.

The woman said when she could not find the keys to the vault, the men threatened to kill members of the family. After the safe was opened, the bandits stashed the jewellery, worth more than $1M, and about $700,000 into a large bag and demanded the keys to the family's `pick-up' vehicle.

They escaped using the pick-up and the vehicle was subsequently found abandoned by the Police at Anna Catherina, also on the West Coast Demerara, at about 01:50 hours yesterday.

"People say they see a strange car in the area driving around," the still shaken woman told the Chronicle yesterday.

She surmised that the men knew the family's routine and waited for an opportune time to carry out the attack. Mrs Madho said their employees were to be paid yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Police have expressed concern over the number of armed robberies being conducted across the country.

On Wednesday, three armed bandits carried out a daring daylight robbery at DIDCO Wholesale Outlet in Cowan Street, Kingston, Georgetown.

They carted off a quantity of money from the day's sale and shot a security guard three times. The man is still hospitalised.

In that robbery, too, the men had used a white Toyota Sprinter and the Police are making every effort to locate these vehicles.

The Police Public Relations office said yesterday that senior officers of the Force have held urgent meetings and discussions in order to plan strategies to deal with the situation.

The Force enhanced its intelligence-gathering capability in the fight against crime and indicated that searches, raids and road-blocks will be intensified at strategic locations, based on the intelligence gleaned.

In order to facilitate quick response and action to robberies, the Police said they are beefing up their operations in relation to the hot-line established at Force Control. The telephone number is 56411.

According to the Police, information with respect to vehicles that may have been used during robberies, and other relevant details, will be passed to the print and electronic media, so that members of the public may be quickly alerted.

The Police said a team of officers has been identified to carry out this function on a 24-hour basis.

Investigations have revealed that a number of criminals buy motor cars from auto-dealers, or rent them from taxi services to commit robberies.

Some of these vehicles, mostly white cars, are unregistered, and carry false number plates. In addition, some of the registration numbers have been traced as being those of trucks and vans.

The Police are urging taxi-services to implement stringent measures to ensure their vehicles are not used by criminals.

Auto Dealers and the owners of taxi-services are likely to be called in for discussions with the Police on this issue.

In addition, meetings will be sought with the private sector and private security services to formalise whatever support they can offer. Community Policing Groups, too, will play a greater role in combatting crime.

The Police said hire car drivers, too, are sometimes involved in robberies, either knowingly, or unknowingly.

The Force is urging members of the public to become involved in the fight against crime by being more observant and to report anything suspicious to the nearest Police Station.

Persons can also call telephone numbers 53650, 61326, 72128, 67065, 66978, 52227, 52744, 56411, 62487, 62488 or 69941. All information will be treated with the strictest confidence, the Police reiterate.

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