Bandits who robbed Friendship gas depot beaten, made to return booty
Stabroek News
July 17, 2002

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The tables were turned on armed bandits early yesterday morning after they robbed an East Coast Demerara (ECD) petrol station.

The three bandits held up a pump attendant at Hamilton's Esso Service Station at Friendship, ECD and robbed him of approximately $8,000, 44 $500 phone cards and his cellular phone. They then fled into the nearby village of Buxton.

However villagers, after being alerted to the incident, sought out the perpetrators and gave them a sound thrashing before expelling them from the community.

When Stabroek News visited the area yesterday one villager said after the bandits were beaten they were placed in a minibus headed for the city. Questioned as to why the men were not handed over to the police, this newspaper was told that the village still did not want anything to do with the police.

Reports suggest that the three young men, two of whom were armed with a pump action rifle and a pistol, had gone to the petrol station in the wee hours of yesterday morning were they carried out the act after which they fled the scene on foot.

When contacted yesterday the Police Public Relations Department confirmed that the service station had been robbed and that the items had been returned by residents.

According to police, a probe into the robbery-under-arms report had been started.

And speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, Managing Director of the service station, Brian Hamilton stated that residents had responded positively in retrieving articles stolen from his employee early yesterday morning.

According to Hamilton, the perpetrators, two of whom are non-villagers, were caught by Buxtonians and given a severe beating prior to being expelled from the community but not before they were made to offer apologies and return the stolen items.

Villagers, he said, had indicated that they intended to rid their community of persons who seek refuge in that area after committing crimes. He said that this was a welcome development since it showed that residents intended to take charge of the situation and restore order to their embattled village.

Hamilton said he was informed by his employee that some time around 0100 hrs, three youths, two of whom tackled him at one of the station's pumps and another acting as a lookout, robbed him of the items.

Calls to the nearby Vigilance Police Station located about 300 metres from the gas station saw officers responding almost an hour after the incident - one vehicle with approximately nine ranks aboard.

Hamilton related that he had subsequently expressed his disgust at the robbery to some villagers who immediately set about the task of seeking out the perpetrators.

The ECD villages of Friendship and Buxton have remained virtual no go zones for members of the police force since the killing of Shaka Blair on April 6 by a contingent of 'Black Clothes' police.

Since then, several crimes have been perpetrated in and around that community by persons whom it was alleged came from within. Several hijacked cars have also been found in Buxton giving the impression that members of the community were involved in criminal acts or lending support to persons so involved.