Cops worried at increased violence in armed robberies
-admits firepower inferior

Stabroek News
September 25, 1999

The Guyana Police Force is concerned about the rise in violence accompanying armed robberies and has acknowledged that it does not have the firepower to match the bandits' weaponry.

In the light of the armed robbery committed on D. Singh and Sons cambio of America Street on Wednesday, Crime Chief, Floyd McDonald, said the police force has to concentrate on gathering intelligence and conducting more patrols in areas vulnerable to criminal activity.

Not naming names, he contended that there were just about four persons who were "giving us a hard time" and if they were caught the armed robberies will be brought under control.

Speaking at a press conference held at the GTV 11 studios on Thursday, McDonald said that despite the high rate of robbery under arms committed, statistics showed that there was a drop from 565 occurring last year to 536 committed this year. He stated that firearms were used in less than 50% of the robberies.

A source of concern for the police was the violence which accompanied the robberies, Mc Donald said. "The criminals have become more violent. They tend to use more high-powered weapons to kill and maim... to drive fear into their victims," he stated.

With the escalation of this type of robbery, the police ranks will have to be trained and protective gear will have to be acquired to deal with the situation, he said. "I won't say that the situation is out of control but I have to admit that we are concerned about the level of violence that is accompanying these robberies."

Police Commissioner, Laurie Lewis, who was at the press conference as well as Traffic Chief, Paul Slowe, acknowledged that the police were not trained to deal with robberies where high-powered weapons were used.

He said that the criminals had embarked upon a new tactic and the police must be better equipped and trained to cope.

Stressing concern over the prevalence of robbery under arms offences, the crime chief explained that this includes using weapons such as knives but lately the robbers had increasingly carried out attacks using high-powered weapons.

McDonald disclosed that the locale for such attacks was mainly the lower East Coast Demerara, central Georgetown, Kitty, Campbellville, and West Coast Demerara to a lesser extent.

Canefield search: Members of the joint services on Thursday in the failed manhunt in canefields on the East Bank of Demerara for three men who shot five persons and robbed several business places on America Street on Wednesday. (Photo by Colin Harding)

According to him, the police were able to arrest several persons in connection with the crimes committed. He said four men were arrested in connection with the robbery committed at the home of rice miller Bhagwandin Madho last month at Crane, West Coast Demerara. The crime chief said the main suspect in that robbery, Linden London called 'Blackie' who is also the leader of the gang which robbed the America Street cambio, was not arrested.

The police suspect London to be the mastermind of the spate of armed robberies as well as the supplier of weapons to carry out the attacks.

During their investigations into the robbery at Crane, McDonald said the police discovered the existence of "a young man" who recruited about ten to 12 "youngsters" to form a religious cult. The group was kept together in a house and provided the manpower to execute the robberies led by London. London provided the arms and ammunition to conduct the attacks, McDonald stated.

Investigations into the robbery committed on Commerce House cambio on Regent Street recently, resulted in one man being arrested and two other suspects being held in Brazil, he said.

McDonald said ballistics tests revealed that the same 9 mm weapon was used in the robberies committed at Commerce House cambio, Didco Trading Co, Cummings Lodge and Industry.

He also announced that the police had caught all the members of the gang which robbed a goldsmith and a household in Kitty.

Meanwhile, Lewis stated that there were instances where persons committed crimes over a short period and the media pounces on the issue to declare that crime is out of control. The commissioner continued that the media made a "big play" whenever there was a crime, but when the criminals were caught there was muted coverage of such achievements.

"I'm asking you to help me in helping the public to understand that while crimes are committed, crimes are [also] solved. I think you the members of the media and we the members of the force have a joint responsibility to ensure the stability of the country, and I am calling on you to continue to assist us in the police force to discharge our mandate to the public," the commissioner stated.

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