P2M lost in Oro mall jewelry heist

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

CAGAYAN DE ORO – Robbers held up a jewelry store inside the SM City mall here Tuesday evening, carting an estimated P2 million worth of jewelry.

Mall customers Karlia and Moira decided to go to a shoe shop at the second floor of the mall after having dinner around 7:30 p.m. before planning to go home.

“We were looking at the shoes when suddenly we heard gunshots, people were screaming. The store staff brought us inside the stockroom and we heard just so many more gunshots. It was scary. There were two other customers who were with us inside the store,” Karlia told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Tuesday night.

The rollup doors of SM were shut down later after the gunshots, Karlia said.

Mall robbery
CAGAYAN DE ORO. Employees come out by batch after the police cleared the mall after the five-minute heist on Tuesday evening, July 22, 2014. The robbers cart away jewelry from a shop inside SM City here. (Joey P. Nacalaban)

When there was silence, Karlia said some police and security guards went inside each shop and accompanied customers out.

“They came to us and brought us out at the exit of the second floor down to the main entrance facing Mastersons Avenue. We left the mall past 8 p.m.,” she said.

Meldy, a crew of one of the food shops close to the jewelry shop, said she saw a man who smashed the glass of the jewelry shop and fired three shots in the air.

She said one of the men wore shorts, green shirt, wore no cap and carried a long firearm.

Ivy Guantero, SM City communications officer, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Tuesday night that everyone is safe and that all shoppers went out the mall safe.

“We are thankful no one is hurt and there are no casualties,” Guantero said.

A lady security guard was wounded but has been given first aid by the Philippine Red Cross which came to respond with the emergency.

Suspected young males

Councilor Ramon Tabor, chair of the committee on police, fire, and public safety, said the CCTV showed four young males inside the jewelry shop and then two other males who came in the entrance near BDO bank pointed their guns at the security guards and asked them to drop and went shooting to create chaos.

Mall robbery
CAGAYAN DE ORO. Members of the Scene of Crime Operatives enter at the doors where the two men carrying firearms appear, tell the security guards to drop and fire shots to create chaos. (Joey P. Nacalaban)

The jewelry shop the men robbed is located beside BDO bank, which is just a few meters away from the entrance where the men who fired shots appeared.

Tabor said there were three or four men who waited outside the mall as lookout with their motorcycles, which the suspects used as their getaway transport.

“They were around 10 of them and they did the crime in five minutes. It was really fast,” Tabor added.

Strictest security check

“SM City has the strictest security check among the malls in the city. Anybody who brings in firearm is asked to deposit it. Initial reports said that some of the men bought a hammer at one of the shops inside the mall. Normally, hammers or tools must be left deposited to the security guards. In this case, this could be a lapse that should be looked into,” Tabor told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Tuesday.

However, the mall must also review its security measures with this incident, he added.

Jewelry stolen

Asked if jewelry were stolen, Tabor said the CCTV showed the men were able to get some but not much, however, the shop sells expensive jewelry.

“They could have gotten 20 pieces maybe and each jewelry sold is priced at P100,000 the least. The police are still checking on this,” Tabor said.

Tabor said that city police chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares assured him of augmentation of police within the week by trainees and the regional security forces to secure the city in time also for the fiesta celebration in August.

“I have been battling with police visibility in my committee and had passed several resolutions already on this matter,” he added.

He said even during the heist at the mall, there were police but only a few were detailed in the mall area.

Tabor would request the photos of the jewelry that were stolen to trace where the suspects would possibly dispose the items.

Asked if the robbers were identified, Tabor said the police suspected that they could be the same people who robbed an online casino games.

“I won’t further comment since we need to get the full report, but they could be the same people who robbed the E-games over the weekend,” he said.

Mall robbery
CAGAYAN DE ORO. This is the first time the city experiences a mall being robbed. The robbers cart away jewelry from a shop inside the mall on Tuesday evening, July 22, 2014. (Joey P. Nacalaban)

Lawyer Roy Raagas, the city administrator, went to the mall right away after the reports on the robbery circulated.

Raagas said security check must be stringent even if it takes long queues before everyone can get into any places that could be targeted with criminal acts.

“It would be better for these places to provide a more high-tech detectors. Police visibility is another,” he said.

Raagas said the City Government assures that it will come up with strategies and measures on how to prevent this from happening again. However, he said “there isn’t such thing as foolproof.”

City Mayor Oscar Moreno will call for an emergency meeting with the police and the military together with the other government agencies today, Wednesday.

Moreno has just been elected as the new Regional Peace and Order Council chair. (With a report from Mario Manlupig Jr.)

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