Businessman battered in bandit attack
--some $100,000 in loot carted off

by Andrew Richards
Stabroek News
July 25, 1999

Bandits struck in the quiet village of Le Destin, East Bank Essequibo, on Friday night, carting away some $100,000 in cash and jewellery and leaving a young businessman nursing a badly bruised face.

Reports reaching Stabroek News state that the police have held four men in connection with the robbery who they believe could assist them in their investigations.

Quick work by neighbours resulted in one man being arrested on Friday night, while two others were held after a road block was set up by the police at Vreed-en-Hoop. The other man was held the following morning.

Carlton Hira, 36, who operates a joinery at his Le Destin residence told this newspaper he was resting at about 23:15 hrs (11:15 pm) on Friday when he heard the guard calling out that the police were outside.

Hira, who has lacerations about his eyes which are swollen, said he got up from his bed and heard shouts outside from persons claiming to be the police. He opened the door and was met by four armed men who barged into the house and immediately demanded cash and jewellery.

The businessman said the men had apparently threatened the guard which made him act as though nothing was wrong before he went to open the door. Two of the men were masked and the four had among them a shotgun, handgun, cutlass and a knife.

Hira, who had been operating the joinery for seven years now, lives with his wife, three children and a relative.

He said the men ordered the family members to lie quietly on the floor then turned upon him. They rained blows about his face and body, Hira said, all the time demanding the loot. They also commanded him to hand over his car keys.

The businessman emptied his pockets of the money he had there and the men began to search the house for more valuables. They took the jewellery they found on the chest of drawers and were still searching around when an object fell on the roof, piercing the still night air with a loud clatter.

This made the bandits scramble out of the house with their booty which included a video cassette recorder that was recovered yesterday morning at the side of the public road, not far from the joinery. It turned out that the sound was made by a rock which was thrown by a neighbour. Wazir Mohamed, the brother of the man who threw the rock, played an integral part in setting up the search for the bandits.

Mohamed said he heard a vehicle pull up outside his house at around 11:10 pm and thought it strange since he knew that his neighbours were already at home. He went to the window to investigate and saw three men jump over Hira's gate. He immediately awoke his brother and nephew.

Mohamed said they went into the yard and heard the sound of someone being beaten next door which indicated to them that something was amiss. The neighbour said he went back into the house and rang the police at Impact Base in Georgetown and the Leonora Police Station. Families in the area were also alerted to the robbery and they all came out to decide how the dilemma could be resolved.

Once the bandits left the house, Mohamed said, he went back to his yard for his car and, together with his brother and nephew, chased behind the bandits who had sprinted off in the direction of Parika located about two miles away.

Mohamed said they scoured an area covering several villages. A white car was seen two villages away from Le Destin but sped away when Mohamed pulled over. After searching for about 45 minutes, they came upon a man walking slowly along the public road in the same area the four bandits had disappeared, Mohamed said.

He stated that the man was accosted by the residents who were prepared to vent their anger on him. The man was identified by the guard and a female occupant of the house that was robbed, he said.

The alleged robber was taken to the Parika Police Station where a red rag similar to one that was used to cover one of the bandits' face was allegedly found in the man's pocket.

A Le Destin resident has expressed some disappointment over the manner in which the police handled the incident. Stabroek News left the home at 3:30 pm and Mohamed said that up to that time the police had not visited the crime scene.

The previous night a police vehicle with three policemen passed the house twice and only stopped when residents called out to them as they were about to pass a third time, the man said. Then, they did not enter the house but drove away after asking a few questions.

The police issued a statement a few weeks ago warning members of the public to beware of a gang of men posing as policemen who proceed to rob homes after informing the residents they were there to search for drugs.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples