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Cops arrest five suspects in robbery

By Bobby Q. Labalan

Sorsogon City --- Police have formally charged five individuals in the daring robbery on a jewelry shop right in the heart of this city last December 7.

The suspects, who carted away more than P2 million worth of jewelries, were identified by the police as Mark Capiz Libang, James Dadpas and Andres Pongchachen, all residents of Baguio City and John Mark Martinez of Zamboanga, Sibugay and one John Doe.

A complaint for robbery was filed against them last Monday, December 11, at the City Prosecutor’s Office, Supt. Jeric Don Sadia, Sorsogon City police chief, said in an interview.

The heist had the makings of a movie scene as the suspects dug a tunnel into the pawnshop through the city’s drainage system which passes in front of the establishment.

Based on the investigation, the suspects dug a hole at a vacant lot near the Jollibee restaurant along Rizal Street from where they accessed the drainage system.

Sadia said the burglars traveled around 60 to 70 meters underground before breaking into the pawnshop’s floor in the wee hours between December 6 and December 7.

The suspects used a vehicle hydraulic jack to break the floor instead of using jack hammer, the police chief said, the reason why no one noticed that something was amiss.

Once inside, they used acetylene torch to break the vaults where the jewelries for sale were kept but failed to break the main vault where pawned jewelries were being stored. The culprits used electric fans to fan the smoke generated by the acetylene, Sadia noted.

Police investigators had a break in the case after reviewing the footages of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) installed by the city government in various locations in the city center.

By backtracking the CCTV footages, the police were able to establish the arrival of the group on board a red Toyota Innova on November 29 and traced them to the Diversion Lodge in Barangay Bibincahan where they stayed until they completed the heist on December 7, Sadia revealed.

The vehicle still had its original plate on when it was first spotted in the city center but was replaced some days later when the group was already in operation, the CCTV monitoring showed.

When verified with the Land Transportation Office, the replacement plate belonged to a truck, though the police had not specified the address of the truck owner.

After the robbery, the group travelled to Barangay Pangpang diversion road before making a U-turn towards Legazpi City, Sadia added.

The police chief said the suspects were of the same group involved in a robbery incident in Zamboanga Sibugay early this year where they were previously arrested and charged in court but were able to post bail.

Sadia said what made the heist difficult to detect was the absence of an alarm system in the shop, even a fire alarm system as well as CCTV monitor.

Without admitting failure of intelligence on the part of the police, Sadia said it would also be difficult for them to make the city robbery-proof due to lack of resources and manpower.

He admitted that police patrol is always stationed either near or sometimes in front of the establishment victimized by the suspects but his men never noticed that something might be going on inside since the establishment had no peep hole as required of banks, jewelry shops and similar establishments.

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