Same group eyed in jewelry heistsBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The police are looking into the possibility that the group that pulled Sunday’s heist at SM North Edsa in Quezon City also robbed SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City earlier this year as the same jewelry stores were targeted.
“The incidents at SM Megamall in January and SM North Edsa both involved F & C Jewelry and The Jeweller store,” Chief Supt. Richard Albano, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director, said on Monday.
He added that the same modus operandi of breaking the jewelry display cases with tools bought from hardware stores inside the malls was used in both incidents.
In Sunday’s heist, two of the robbers were spotted with a hammer and a crowbar. On the other hand, the six men who pulled the heist at SM Megamall on Jan. 26 used wrenches to smash the jewelry display cases.
A source who declined to be identified for lack of authority to talk to the media said a comparison of the video footage from both robberies showed that two of the suspects in the January heist were also part of the group that robbed SM North Edsa.
“It is really possible that the same group is behind it since we have pinpointed two players who were involved in both incidents,” the source added.
At press time, the two jewelry shops had yet to declare how much was taken by the robbery group.
Albano said at least seven men, all unarmed, were behind Sunday’s heist at 7:15 p.m., targeting F & C Jewelry and The Jeweller store, which are located on the ground floor of the department store.
Chief Insp. Rodelio Marcelo, head of the QCPD’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit, said two served as lookouts while the others grabbed the loot.
Earlier, one of the five men pretended to be interested in buying a pair of gold wedding rings from The Jeweller, asking a saleswoman for help.
As she was showing him the rings, he took out a hammer and smashed the display case while another robber broke the F & C Jewelry display case with a crowbar.
The two men and their three other cohorts started scooping up the jewelry inside the cases and then escaped by disappearing into the throng of shoppers.
Meanwhile, Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, Philippine National Police spokesman, maintained that the incident was not a cause for alarm despite the brazenness of the attack carried out by suspected members of the “Martilyo (Hammer) Gang.”
No less than President Aquino and other senior government officials, among them Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, rushed to the scene to check on the situation.
“But this is a cause for us to review the security measures in shopping malls and think of ways to improve them,” Sindac said.
In a statement, SM said it had reinforced security in its malls for the holidays. “After the incident, the mall is back to normal operations. We will continue to look after the safety and security of our shoppers,” it added.—With a report from Marlon Ramos