Cops link Ortigas, Alabang heists
By Reinir Padua
MANILA, Philippines – Investigators have noted a similarity between last Thursday’s robbery at the Robinson’s Galleria in Ortigas, Quezon City and a foiled armored van heist at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City in February, an official said yesterday.
Chief Superintendent Mario de la Vega, director of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), noted that both groups of robbers targeted the delivery of money by armored vans.
“There was a similarity with that previous incident…but the people in that incident (in Alabang) were still coming out of the armored van (while the ones in Robinson’s Galleria have already gone inside the mall),” De la Vega said.
The Ozamis robbery group was tagged in the Alabang Town Center robbery, but De la Vega said they are still not yet zeroing in on the same gang for the Robinson’s Galleria heist.
‘Young, hip’ robbers
However, QCPD deputy director for operations Senior Superintendent Joel Pagdilao noted that the Galleria robbers appeared to range in age from 22 to 27 – relatively younger than most robbers, who are in their 30s.
“Based on their built, they seemed young. They were agile (maliksi) in their actions,” Pagdilao told The STAR in an interview.
The police official was describing the robbers based on footage taken by the mall’s surveillance cameras as three of the reported six robbers rushed out of the mall.
“They were in civilian clothes, in shorts. They were dressed up. One was even wearing high-cut rubber shoes,” Pagdilao said.
He said the “hip” way the robbers dressed “would have made it easier for them to blend in with the crowd.”
He said they were still trying to get footage taken by other cameras in the mall to see how the robbers managed to smuggle handguns into the mall.
Pagdilao said the mall opened at 10 a.m., and the robbers could have entered at this time, coming in amid the first influx of mallgoers.
The bloody encounter happened at around 10:30 a.m. as Security Bank employees were about to deliver money to a branch of Sanry’s Money Changer in the mall. Before that, bank personnel had already delivered money to another branch of the same money changer shop at the same mall.
A source said the first delivery was worth P2 million, indicating that the supposed second delivery – which was taken by the suspects – could have also amounted to P2 million. The incident left a security guard of the bank dead and six others injured.
The robbers lobbed two grenades, one of which exploded, as they fled on motorcycles along Ortigas Avenue.
Police investigators are in the process of comparing the .9mm and .45 caliber slugs recovered from the crime scene at Robinson’s Galleria with the ones recovered at the Alabang Town Center heist.
Investigators are also looking into the possibility that the heist was an inside job.