9 police teams hunt down robbery gang; Pharmacy holdup took 2 to 3 minutes

By: Apple Ta-as August 19,2014 - 09:36 AM

Policemen from the Pardo Police Station review the CCTV footage following the robbery of the Three Sixty Pharmacy in Bulacao.(CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON)

“Get him in 48 hours.”

This was the marching orders of Cebu City’s chief  of police to nine police teams formed yesterday to track down Leonardo Rama, the suspected leader of a gang linked to a series of armed robberies in Cebu City.

Rama, an ex-military agent, was positively identified in security video footage of a ThreeSixty pharmacy branch that was held up at noon in barangay Bulacao Pardo.

It took just a few minutes for two armed men to enter, head straight for the vault and then finding it locked, take P20,000 cash from the lone cashier on duty.

Senior Supt. Noli Romana, chief of police, said most of the tracker teams have been sent outside the city where Rama and his cohorts were believed to have fled after robbing the pharmacy branch.

The holdupper also took P500 from a customer in the drug store, said the store’s security guard Ryan Siao.

“He was a military civilian agent in Davao, where he is a native,” Romana said of the principal suspect.

“He knows how the police works. He’s had police training. ”Kahibaw gyud siya mo-tiyempo (He knows how to time his attack).”

Police also linked Rama’s group, which was estimated to have up to eight members, to last Thursday’s robbery of an LBC courier service branch in Escario St.
Rama has a standing warrant of arrest in connection with the New Year’s eve robbery of La Nueva pharmacy in barangay Talamban.

Rama and another suspect Wendell Mendoza were identified by witnesses after they were shown their mugshots on file with the police.

Witnesses said the holduppers had .45 cal. pistols and were swift and precise in their movements.
The incident was over in just a few minutes,” said Insp. David Senor of the Cebu City Police Office Theft and Robbery Section.

According to witnesses and based on a closed-circuit television camera recording, the heist took two to three minutes to execute. A third member of the group was waiting outside the pharmacy on board a motorcycle.

SPO3 Roger Nedamo, investigator of the Pardo Police Station, said the suspects were eyeing the contents of the store vault.

After they were told by the store supervisor that the key was not with them, they decided to clean out the cash register.

Security guard Siao said the men wore baseball caps when they entered. As standard security procedure, Siao asked them to take off their caps. As Rama got past the guard, he immediately turned around and disarmed him of his service firearm.

Narrating the sequence as seen on the CCTV footage, SP03 Nedamo said one of the men, identified as Rama, took the security guard aside and went to the area where the vault was kept.

Rodelyn Gabatan, the cashier on duty, said she thought the man was from their Human Resource Department who arrived to check on them since there was no commotion.

“Na-shock na lang ko kay nisulod siya diri sa cashier’s booth og gipangayo ang halin (I was shocked when he went inside the cashier’s booth and asked for the day’s sale),” she said.

“Habal-habal” (motorcycle taxi) drivers who were waiting for passengers near the pharmacy said a third member of the gang was on the lookout outside the establishment.

Supt. Romana said the presence of a CCTV camera in the establishment was a big help to investigators.

In last week’s LBC heist, the establishment’s surveillance camera was defective and was not able to record the incident. LBC lost P7,000 in the heist.

Asked to comment on the brazen manner of the daytime holdup, Romana attributed this to the gang leader’s military background.

“The only reason these robberies happen in daylight is that he knows how the police works and how we deploy our men. Yesterday, they knew that most people were on lunch break,” he told CDN.

Romana said he has ordered a review of operational procedures including the deployment schedule of their patrols.

Related Stories:

Robbers divest pharmacy of 25k cash

LBC courier outlet robbed

Robbers take P10K from LBC Escario outlet 


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TAGS: gisrd, LBC, robbery, security, Three Sixty
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