Guards in cahoots with gang behind MRT robberies?
MANILA, Philippines—A police official on Sunday said that some security guards assigned at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) could be acting in cahoots with a group of robbers preying on commuters.
“It’s impossible for them [guards] not to recognize the members of the group,” Senior Police Officer 4 Allan de la Cruz, head of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) theft and robbery section, said.
He explained that the gang—believed to be headed by a man identified as Dodong Oslo—rode the trains so frequently that its members should at least be familiar to the security guards assigned to the stations where most of the robberies took place.
According to him, the gang was organized with each member assigned a role to play: one would push the victim, another would pick his pocket, a third would pretend to offer his help while a fourth man would be in charge of distracting the victim to let his cohorts escape.
De la Cruz voiced out the possibility of a conspiracy between the MRT guards and rob gang after two suspected members of the group were arrested separately at the Araneta Center-Cubao station earlier this week.
They were identified as Cedric Mondragon, 21; and Ruel Balmonte, 31. Both are residents of Barangay (village) Batasan Hills in Quezon City.
Last Wednesday, authorities captured Mondragon after he and two cohorts stole the wallet of commuter Archie Castillo.
According to Castillo, a man shoved him off the train while another one picked his pocket.
Mondragon then approached him and offered his help but Castillo became suspicious when he felt the man’s hand sliding into his front pocket of his jeans where his phone was.
He said he confronted Mondragon but another man came up from behind him, pressed a pointed object into his back and whispered into his ear in Filipino: “Be quiet.”
Castillo waited until Mondragon and the other man walked away and then he shouted for help, attracting the attention of security guards who caught Mondragon.
On Monday, Balmonte was caught with two cell phones which he stole from two men, one of whom immediately sought police assistance, which led to the rob suspect’s arrest. Balmonte’s cohorts, however, were able to escape.
For his part, De la Cruz urged the public to be vigilant especially during rush hours as robbers usually took advantage of the huge crowd of commuters waiting at MRT stations to carry out their illegal activities.
According to him, the police have stepped up their visibility at MRT stations in Quezon City to prevent more thefts.
At the same time, De la Cruz encouraged victims to come forward and report thefts so that the police could solve the robberies.
He stressed that the information provided by victims would help them verify or pursue leads that could lead to the identification and arrest of the other gang members.—With a report from Nancy C. Carvajal
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