“I AM glad the video has gone viral and is now being viewed by an international audience. Now the world can see what is happening in this country. It is frightening!” so said Ranjit Thackor, owner of RT Jewellers Ltd, High Street San Fernando. Thieves staged a daring mid-morning robbery at the store on Tuesday, stealing an undisclosed amount of jewelry.
The store has been in business for the past 40 years and Thackor told Newsday it was the third time it has been robbed. The store reopened for business yesterday. In an interview yesterday, Thackor said people must see what is happening in the country. “Imagine, there are people walking around with guns in their pockets and if they feel to rob or kill you they do it.”
The video of the robbery, which has now gone viral, shows the entire incident, from when the unmasked thieves entered to when they left the store. “It is alarming to know that men could casually walk into a store in broad daylight and commit a robbery and hold employees hostage.Crime in this country is becoming out of control and something must be done,” Thackor said, adding that people are afraid and uncertain what criminals would do next. He said they now seem to be using any means to get what they want.
On Tuesday at about 11am, police said, the armed thieves entered the store prepared with knapsacks to bag their loot. One carried a hammer to smash the showcases to reach the jewelry on display. The hammer-wielding bandit and his accomplice then removed jewelry and put it in their knapsacks.
In the footage, a clerk crawls over broken glass as she tries to reach a side room. The entire ordeal lasted less than a minute. The men then ran through Carlton Centre and onto St James Street.
When Newsday visited several business places nearby, owners said criminals who target stores within the city are not from south, but come from different hot spot areas across the country.
“These men work in gangs and scope out stores on a daily basis. Sometimes stores are robbed and they are not reported because business owners are fed up,” an owner told Newsday. President of the Business Association Daphne Bartlett said crime is on the increase and it was necessary to have a joint army and police patrol in the city.
“Now there are robberies at least once a week. Business owners are being robbed and people are being robbed of jewelry and their handbags along High Street. And when you look around to see if there is a foot patrol police, there is no semblance of police,” she said. Bartlett said there was only so much business owners could do to secure their stores.
“RT Jewellers cannot do anymore to secure his business. He has security cameras, he has a security officer by the door. His store is on High Street and a crime can take place like that and the men can get away without detection,” she said. Business owners have also asked for CCTV cameras at strategic points, she said.
“There are cameras on High Street, but just one or two, and these people use Carlton Centre as a getaway point. “Business owners are fed up. We are now calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to take charge. Things are falling apart and it seems San Fernando will shut down very soon, because it is getting quieter and quieter with the number of businesses being robbed,” Bartlett said.