Bandits rob cricket board office
Reon King, staff locked in toilet

By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
May 26, 2001

A brazen early morning robbery by two gun- and cutlass-toting bandits yesterday saw Guyana and West Indies fast bowler, Reon King and employees of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) locked in a toilet and US$3,500 (around $660,000) and $90,000 stolen.

The bandits not only terrorized the employees of the cricket board and escaped with the money, but they also helped themselves to two bottles of aerated drinks from the refrigerator, leaving the half-empty bottles in the office.

When Stabroek News visited the board's office, which is situated in the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) compound, the three shaken employees were sitting in the ransacked office.

The bandits also escaped with jewellery and cash belonging to the employees of the board.

The three employees, Administrator, Savitri Persaud; Secretary Barbara Oswald; and Office Assistant Anson Peters said that when they arrived at work yesterday they found that the phones were down. It was later learnt that the wires had been snipped. The phones were working on Thursday afternoon when they left.

They said that shortly before 9:00 am Peters left to take his son to school in Queenstown and to also inform the officials of the cricket board that the phones were not working.

Oswald, whose office is in front of Persaud's, said she was in Persaud's office when Peters left, but after a few minutes she returned to her office to close the door that leads to the road. The woman said that as she approached the door the two men calmly walked in and one of them placed a gun to her neck demanding money. The other man, she said was armed with a cutlass.

The woman said she told them the board's money was not kept at the office and they proceeded to rob her of her jewellery and took the money she had in her handbag. The bandits then went to Persaud's office, taking Oswald with them, where they made the same demand. Persaud gave them the same answer and they also robbed her of her money and jewellery. The bandit with the cutlass then took the two women to sit in the eating area of the office while the other bandit ransacked the office looking for money.

The bandits asked the women when "the man", referring to the office assistant would return and they told him shortly.

Hearing this the bandits then locked both women in the toilet and continued the search. It was during this time that Peters returned to the office.

Peters said he was greeted at the door by the bandits who placed the gun to his head and asked him for money. He was relieved of his wallet and watch and he told them that a canister containing money was usually kept at the office but he did not know where.

It was at this point that King arrived at the office to collect his ticket to travel to Trinidad on Sunday to take part in the West Indies cricket camp.

The bandits apparently recognised King and made no demands of him but calmly walked him to the toilet and locked him in with the women. Later, they also put Peters in the toilet.

After a while, they realised that the men had left and King kicked down the toilet door. It was then they noticed the empty canister on a desk with just a few coins inside. A screwdriver was next to it. The employees said they had no screwdriver in the office and they concluded that it belonged to the bandits and might have been in one of the haversacks they carried.

King got his cellular phone from his car and it was then they made contact with the board's secretary, Bish Panday, who informed the police. The police visited the scene and took statements and promised to return later in the day to uplift fingerprints.

President of the board, Chetram Singh told Stabroek News that from all indications the bandits had the office "staked (out) because they knew what was going on in the office." He pointed out that they knew Peters was out and opined that they might have been the persons who cut the telephone lines.

"It is something planned, it is not something that happened by the way," Singh said.

He said that the robbery would not affect the cricket board in any way but he was concerned about the effect it would have on the two women. Singh said that the board was looking at restructuring the office and would not allow unauthorised persons to gain entry.

There was no security guard stationed at the office. Singh said that they only had armed guards during cricket when there were cash transactions.

Singh said the $90,000 was money from selling balls to cricket clubs, while the US$3,500 was for players' travel allowance, as well as members of the West Indies Cricket Board.