Post Office van hijacked
Sixty-nine bags of mail rifled
Ejected driver takes bandits car to police, man emerges from trunk
By Miranda La Rose
August 8, 2002
A post office van taking mail to the city was waylaid by gunmen on Tuesday night and 69 bags were thoroughly tumbled up and their contents later strewn on the East Coast.
In the dramatic sequence of events, the ejected driver from the Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC) van jumped into the car abandoned by the gunmen and drove it into the Ruimveldt Police Station where he reported the matter. Around an hour later, the driver of that vehicle - which had also been hijacked - crawled out of the trunk where he had been stuffed by the gunmen to tell his own harrowing tale.
It is unclear whether the bandits found much of value in the bags.
Police located the GPOC van yesterday morning in the Crown Dam/Industry, East Coast Demerara area but the mail was pilfered. It was the first time that a GPOC vehicle with mail was hijacked.
Assistant Postmaster General (Marketing and Customer Relations) Leon Dickson told reporters at a press briefing yesterday that the mail in the 69 bags came mainly from the USA, Canada and Trinidad. The bags were dumped at the old pump station in Plaisance, East Coast Demerara.
In view of the hijacking of the van, Dickson said that the issue of security was discussed at a management meeting held yesterday morning but he said it was very difficult to change a system bringing mail into the city when there was just one road and it was done more or less routinely based on flights coming into the country. However, he said the issue of security was being taken seriously.
Dickson said that while the bulk of the mail was ordinary mail, the GPOC would have to contact the source of their origin to ascertain their contents. He said that since mail was broached in Trinidad earlier in the year, people were being encouraged not to send money in envelopes.
Asked whether the vehicle may have been targeted for robbery, Dickson said that the trip was considered a regular run.
He said that the GPOC tries to get the mail as quickly as possible from the airport but the robbery could have been planned.
He added that since the September 11 attacks in the US, the loading of the mail no longer takes place in the arrivals area within the confines of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri but at the gate in the vicinity of the VIP lounge in full view of the public. This situation, he said, was one which the GPOC was not happy about and objected to but to no avail.
Relating how he was taken in by the bandits, the driver of the Oasis Taxi Service car - in a telephone interview - told Stabroek News that he picked up three well-dressed men in D’Urban Street, Wortmanville who asked to be taken to the Rasville area. On Cane view Avenue in the Rasville area, he said that one of the men told him to stop the car. He stopped and was told to get into the back seat while one of them aimed a pistol at him. He complied.
He said that in the car the “guy in the back seat” with him said that they had only “wanted to borrow the vehicle” and he was “going to get it back”. At a lonely spot along the route where the bandits drove (he did not know where), he said, they forced him into the back of the car trunk. He sustained minor injuries to his left eye and left shoulder. He remained there very quietly. The men then continued to drive with him in the trunk. He was only aware that there had been a change in the drivers when he got out of the trunk after the car had been parked at the Ruimveldt Police Station - about an hour after the bandits abandoned it and the driver of the GPOC vehicle drove it to the station.
The driver of the taxi said that he had been playing religious songs and hoped that the bandits took a cue in getting converted to Christianity. He thanked God for having escaped almost unhurt.
Relating the GPOC version, Dickson said that shortly after 10 pm, while the GPOC van was conveying mail from the airport to Georgetown, a white car drove alongside it and the driver told the driver of the van that the van’s rear door was not properly closed and a bag was falling out. This was in the vicinity of the bridge in the Bagotstown/Eccles area. There was an unarmed security guard in the van with the driver.
Concerned, the GPOC driver stopped the vehicle and went to check the door. When he came out he found the door locked. Satisfied that the door was secured, he returned to the driver’s side of the van and encountered a man with a pistol.
“The man told him to remain calm and not to say or do anything. The vehicle was parked in front of the mail van preventing any chances of a quick getaway”, Dickson related.
He said initially there were two bandits and one went to the passenger side where the security guard was seated. He asked the security guard to leave the vehicle and a third bandit emerged from the car, boarded the van and they drove away heading in the direction of Georgetown.
The driver of the van decided to pursue the bandits in the taxi that was left at the scene because the key was in the ignition. The van turned off at the junction near Houston and the GPOC driver then drove to the Ruimveldt Police Station to make a report.
While at the station the driver of the taxi who was forced into the truck by the bandits emerged. Up to that point no one knew that he was in the vehicle.
Police spokesman, Assistant Superintendent of Police, David Ramnarine told Stabroek News yesterday that the police are investigating. It is unclear whether the police attempted to pursue the vehicle or throw up roadblocks to intercept it.