Beware of this robbery scheme that involves a cast of three or more men, a script and a prop.
An INQUIRER employee lost his company ring to a gang he encountered on a Makati City street on Black Saturday. The robbers, even without brandishing a weapon, used intimidation and misdirection to prey on their victim.
Roy Sarmiento, 50, said he was walking on Dela Rosa Street around 11:15 a.m. to get a jeepney ride going to the office on Chino Roces Avenue when a burly man called his attention.
“He tried to block my way and then told me: ‘The man you accidentally bumped earlier is calling you,’” he recalled.
Sarmiento said he indeed drew contact with another pedestrian minutes earlier, but explained to the burly stranger that the former “was the one who hit me.”
But the burly man insisted that Sarmiento stay put and face the earlier pedestrian he supposedly offended. By this time, the pedestrian had caught up with Sarmiento and introduced himself as a policeman in plainclothes.
This “cop”—who claimed he was posted in the area by his “commanding officer”—grabbed Sarmiento by the arm and asked him to hand over his ID and wallet.
“After seeing that there was no money in my wallet, he asked me to remove my ring so he could check if it had a name inscribed on it,” Sarmiento said, referring to the Service Award ring he got from the INQUIRER in his 15th year with the company.
The alleged police officer took the ring and, as he examined it, repeatedly berated Sarmiento.
He then tossed the ring into a grassy spot along Dela Rosa, then told Sarmiento: “Try to find it. If you can’t, I’ll smash up your face.”
Sarmiento was forced to walk over to the grassy patch and began searching.
After about 10 minutes, he found an entirely different ring— not the gold one he got from the INQUIRER, but a cheap piece made of stainless steel. The alleged officer had apparently tossed this second ring into the grass to distract Sarmiento while he pocketed the INQUIRER ring.
“When I looked back, they were already gone,” he said.
Sarmiento also recalled that, all along, “a third man” was watching the encounter a few meters away, apparently serving as a lookout. This third man was also gone by the time he had found the steel ring.
In an interview on Tuesday, Makati police chief Senior Supt. Manuel Lukban said the men “probably used a new modus (operandi).” With a report from Niña P. Calleja