Cops, malls watch shoppers buying wrenches, hammers



A week after robbers sneaked past security at a shopping mall and used pipe wrenches bought from the same mall to smash jewelry cases open, authorities are now keeping a close watch on shoppers buying hardware tools.

National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Leonardo Espina on Friday said he had proposed the monitoring of customers buying wrenches, hammers and other heavy tools at shopping malls, apparently applying a lesson learned from the Jan. 26 SM Megamall heist in Mandaluyong City.

Espina said mall managers had agreed to a scheme wherein purchase stubs would be issued to customers who bought hardware tools that can be used for robbery or an assault. They can only claim the purchased items, however, after presenting the stubs to security guards posted “outside” the mall.

“Customers won’t be using hammers or pipe wrenches in the mall (anyway), so there’s no point in carrying them while in the area,” Espina told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

Espina, who inspected Megamall shortly after the robbery that Saturday night, said its security guards had been lax in checking the bags of incoming mall-goers, hence armed robbers were able to get in.

The movements of five of the six robbers were caught on the mall’s closed circuit television cameras. Two were seen carrying pipe wrenches bought inside the mall and using them to smash the glass jewelry cases on the ground floor of the mall’s main department store.

Another was seen carrying a .45-cal. pistol tucked in his waistband, also undetected by security guards.

The Jan. 26 heist was discussed by Metro Manila mayors and private sector representatives in a meeting at Makati City Hall on Friday.

In an interview after the meeting, Valentine Hizon of Ayala Malls Assets Security, said hardware stores at Ayala establishments had been advised to immediately inform his office about customers buying hammers and wrenches.

In the same meeting, Las Piñas City Mayor Vergel Aguilar said police visibility should be enhanced at shopping malls since “robbers are more threatened by the police than by the security guards.”

Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, meanwhile, expressed reservations about the recent Philippine National Police directive that allowed mall security guards to be armed.

“If you have a gun, you will engage (in a gunfight),” he said. “The people’s welfare should still be the top priority.”

Binay said the PNP should instead step up its intelligence work against robbery gangs.

Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian said malls should consider spending more for security and perhaps use X-ray machines instead of just hand-held metal detectors.

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  • Eric

    Kalabasa, pakwan, melon, durian at patola….. Puede rin

    Psst. Suggestion lang baka less headache. Why not relocate all sections and shops selling high value items to the top floor. This will probably discourage the goons since a quick escape is not possible….unless they have a helicopter.

    • Ravens727

      take this suggestion into account……then if a robbery happens, there should be an automatic lock down on the top floor or highest level of the mall……if this is done, then robbers are going to think twice……….

  • Mamang Pulis

    nagtataka lang ako—

    ang mga jewelry store sa mall–lalo na yun nasa open area 

    may naka toka na isa o dalawang armed security guard

    bakt dito tila wala ata?

    o meron?

    baka naka timing na ‘mawala’ yun guard habang nag operate sial

    malamang may kinalaman ang ‘bantay’ habang sumasalakay

    • Jose Nieto

      Huwag kang magtaka Mamang Pulis. Hindi ba ang sabi sa balita ay mga dating seku ang ilan? Mukhang nagkaroon ng proper training ang mga suku nang hindi na sila seku.

    • Timbuktu & Kiribati

       marami pong angulo ang dapat tignan at bigyan pansin at solusyon. kung hindi ang gulo.


    GREAT JOB, Espina….keep it up for your kabayans!

    • Jeremy Goyo

      bro mas nakakatakot ngayon tumambay sa mga malls at baka tayo mabaril ng mga malalakas na loob na holdapers. tapos mahahassle pa tayo ng mga guwardya. salamat na lang kay gen. espina. sige lang tuloy ang paghihirap natin.

      • UrHONOR

        HINDI mabibigla yan, Bro.  It’s a matter of attitude….either the glass is HALF-FULL or HALF-EMPTY.  Besides, kung hindi tutulong ang LAHAT sa pagbabago, kahit na ano pa ang gawin ng kahit na sino pa, WALANG mangyayaring pagbabago.  Samakatuwid, si Espina ay parte lamang ng solusyon sa problemang nakahain na yan….ang malaking bahagi ng solusyon ay na sa mamamayan.

  • Rovingmoron

    Why should the security guards allow themselves to be killed by these sons of bithces? I don’t think Mayor Binay is using his coconut shell. It is better to be armed than nothing at all.

    • 4UBabe81

       they don’t have a choice bro. wala silang baril yong kalaban meron.

  • pinoynga

    As I read this article, I laughed, and then, I cried. Since the incident when a boy shot himself inside an SM mall because of an LQ (lover’s quarrel), the knee-jerk reaction was then to train security guards. Today, it seems to me either of two things: 1) the trainer did not train effectively; or 2) the students did not learn. Today the same story, but now funnier and perhaps now becoming more ridiculous. Ang taong bayan ang talagang tinatamaan ng sh…t after the fact. What are we missing here? Do the PNP, government or media think we were all born tomorrow? Or was it it yesterday?

    Ponder on the following:

    1) Security agencies, as an industry or business, is under whose jurisdiction and control?
    2) How easy or hard is it to acquire a license to operate a security agency?
    3) Aren’t security agencies owned, managed, and operated by former military and PNP officers, or even those who are still in active duties?
    4) Why are security guards being deployed without proper training in providing security services?
    5) Has there been any security agency whose license was revoked or at least put on notice?
    It’s like hiring a carpenter. Later the carpenter is found to be wanting or not learned on carpentry. Now the carpenter needs training?

    By the highway, for the reference of the PNP, compliments of the Boys Scouts of the PH, customers who buy vinegar, baking soda, and a lot more home products may be able to build a bomb. I think they too need surveillance, don’t you think? ha ha ha . . . hu hu hu . . . ay naku po susmaryosep aba ginoong awa!

    • Pedro Geronimo

      The issues you raised are fundamental and important. We hope this is being looked at and considered.

  • wysiwyg81

    tayo pong mga tax payers ay patuloy na ginigisa sa ating sariling mantika.

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