3 guards, teller charged over armored van robbery

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Three security guards and a roving teller were charged Friday with qualified theft after they allegedly allowed members of the “bukas kotse (open car) gang” to steal some P2 million of the day’s earnings of a drugstore chain from their armored van in Manila.

The four men claimed that robbers entered the armored van they had left unattended for four to five minutes as they made their collection from the Mercury Drugstore branch at the Robinson’s Place mall on Adriatico Street in Ermita and looted the vault inside the vehicle.

But investigators of the Manila Police District (MPD) theft and robbery section found their statement incredible and recommended the filing of the charge before the city prosecutor’s office.

SPO2 William Gondranios, case investigator, identified the suspects as Royal Mandarin Security Services Corp. guards: Ronald Guillemer, 29; Wilfredo Palpallatoc, 31; Edgardo Avila, 41; and roving verifier and teller Amador Manimtim, 48, who were assigned to man the Armored Transport Plus Inc. (ATPI) van with body number 3365.

Unbelievable claims

Gondranios told the Inquirer that what made the four suspects’ claims unbelievable was his observation that the group violated several standard operating procedures for security guards in escorting an armored van as well as the absence of forced entry into the vehicle and the vault inside.

The armored van robbery happened at around 3 p.m. Friday, police said.

Before the incident, the three guards had accompanied the teller inside the shopping mall to collect the day’s earnings of the Mercury drugstore branch.

Gondranios said that the guards and the teller left P2 million worth of the day’s earnings which they collected from six other Mercury Drugstore branches in Manila inside the vault with a combination lock and a key.

When the men returned several minutes after with their cash collection from the drugstore branch inside the mall, they found the rear door open and the vault empty.  They then reported the robbery to Royal Mandarin Services Corp. general manager Elizer Tomas.

Tomas immediately sought police assistance and lodged a complaint against the four men before the MPD theft and robbery section after noticing several lapses.

Tomas told the case investigator that the armored van had been parked wrong, with the front side of the vehicle facing the door of the building instead of the rear side facing the door to enable convenient, easy, and quick access for the transportation of money.

He also pointed out that the armored van was never supposed to be left unattended.  Driver and security guard Palpallatoc, he stressed, should not have left the vehicle.

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