Burglars break into 3 Cebu town halls

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

CEBU CITY -- More than P167,000 went missing from treasurer’s offices in the northern Cebu towns of Compostela, Carmen and Sogod, according to the police.

Two of these burglaries occurred near the police stations in Compostela and Carmen.

Compostela Vice Mayor Josephine Abing was dismayed by the incident, saying the police failed to protect the town hall.


“They have to do their task,” she told reporters. “That is a big slap on their faces.”

Investigators are looking into the possibility that the culprits are familiar with the offices because they are employees themselves or know some insiders.

In Compostela, acting treasurer Cleofe Gonzaga said P75,000 in taxes and other fees were taken from drawers and a vault in the treasurer’s office inside the municipal hall, which is near the police station.

She said they will ask Compostela Mayor Joel Quiño to hire a guard for their office. She said it was the first time burglars broke into their office.

“It is a lesson for us not to leave money in our drawers. We are kind of lax in our security because there is a police station near us,” she said.

3 town halls in Cebu struck
NORTHERN TRAIL. Crime scene investigators look for evidence inside the treasurer’s office in the town hall of Compostela, some 25 kilometers north of Cebu City. Carmen and Sogod also reported similar burglaries on Tuesday, August 26, 2014. (Sun.Star Cebu Photo/Allan Cuizon)

Most of the coins inside the collectors’ drawers were not taken, she added.

SPO1 Elmer Abesia said that more than P50,000 was stolen from the vault placed inside a steel cabinet. He said it was possible the person in charge had forgotten to lock it.

The vault is assigned to revenue collector Arlene Rosal, the only person who knows the number combination that can unlock the vault. She said she always made sure it was locked before leaving the office.

Abesia and other investigators let Rosal open the vault, which was locked. But there were no bills inside, just a juice drink box containing coins.

Personal losses

For his part, Lusilo Bontia reported last Monday to the police that P4,800 in his personal funds were stolen from the Carmen treasurer’s office.

SPO2 Simplicio Gibo said the culprits entered the office by destroying the padlock of the sliding window.

The police station is in the same compound with the municipal building, where the treasurer’s office is located.

On the same day, Sogod treasurer’s office clerks Asuncion Tura and Wilda Tejero reported to the police that P55,961.22 in revenues were stolen from their drawers.

PO2 Jose Rustel Hortelano said that thieves stole P39,356.78 from Tejero’s drawer and P16,604.44 from Tura’s.

He added that Tura’s savings amounting to P31,550 were also taken.

“Iyang gitagoan ang iyang kwarta sa opisina kay nakawatan na daw siya sa una sa ilang balay (She hid the money in her office because she had lost some money before when thieves broke into her home),” said Hortelano in a phone interview.

He said the culprits possibly entered through the back door, which was not destroyed.

Tejero, a clerk, told the police that at least P39,000 was taken from her drawer.

No cameras

In Compostela, Gonzaga said the break-in was discovered only Tuesday, around 5 a.m., by someone on the staff.

Chief Inspector Fructuoso Lim, the town’s police chief, said that four persons probably carried out the crime inside the treasurer’s office, which is about 10 meters from the police station.

They probably climbed the water tower at the back of the municipal building, before entering the treasurer’s office. He also showed reporters a damaged door just outside the assessor’s office.

The culprits’ identities, he said, are still a mystery because the office is not equipped with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and an alarm system that is connected to the police station.

There was no guard on duty to prevent the burglary, said Lim.

Vice Mayor Abing said she will suggest to the council to pass a budget for the procurement of CCTV cameras.

“There is a need to hire a security guard who can man (this place) 24 hours. We always conduct roving patrols here,” Chief Inspector Lim said in Cebuano. “Kahibaw ka aning mga kawatan kita ra man say gibantayan (You know, these thieves probably watch our moves).” (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 27, 2014.

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