Sting operation ordered to solve bank related robberies
By Bibi Khatoon
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan says he is “absolutely concerned,” with the recent spate of robberies which occur after persons leave various commercial banks.
Approximately nine persons were robbed large sums of money after leaving the banks in the past two months and the police are yet to make any headway in their investigations.
At a press conference this morning at his Brickdam, Georgetown office, Minister Ramjattan said he has ordered the Commissioner of Police (ag), David Ramnarine to conduct sting operations in order to catch the perpetrators.
Mr Ramnarine is taking over operations of the force today, as Seelall Persaud proceeds on pre-retirement leave.
Suspicions were raised about bank employees colluding with the bandits to carry out the robberies, but the Security Minister said investigations are being carried out in the banks and employees’ phones are being taken away “so it couldn’t be.”
“My information is that when the tellers are working and they have to give out a $5M to a person, they don’t have their phones,” Ramjattan said as he expressed confidence in the competence of the bank managers.
The Minister also raised the issue of victims’ information being leaked by their own relatives and acquaintances.
“We are also coming around believing some of these people who withdraw monies, sometime tell family members, tell villagers: ‘ma guh bank, ma guh collect money, ma go draw down fo pay you aff and suh’ and then the information probably seeps through that way.”
He said the banks were encouraged to put up CCTV cameras in and around their facilities but the bandits rarely go in close proximity of the banks.
“They go some distance and somehow manage to get the information or they have a special skill themselves.”
Minister Ramjattan made it clear that the police are depending on information from the public.
“But to get sting operations done, requires some information from members of the public as to who might be doing this thing, whether it’s from the banks…” the Security Minister said.
He alluded to the payment of informants –a structured programme where persons are paid cash to provide information to the police.
“Because some people seem not to know their civic duty of telling the police and some of them are scared to tell the police too,” Ramjattan said.
The Minister also launched a stinging diatribe against family members who protect the perpetrators.
“Parents and brothers and sisters of these thief men know who they are. Just like that thief man that gone and thief goat and sheep and was shot, family members knew who they were but they didn’t want to talk until they got killed.
“We [are] a small society and everybody know everybody business and how he can buy shirt and all kinda thing and gold band and thing like duh—he ain’t wukking nowhere,” Ramjattan told the news conference.
The Guyana Association of Bankers (GAB) in a recent statement urged the population to refrain from withdrawing large amounts of cash when visiting commercial banks.
“In the interest of safety, we take this opportunity to encourage customers and members of the public to as far as possible refrain from conducting large cash transactions, and instead utilize other secure methods of payment such as Manager’s Cheques or direct payments,” the Association said in a statement on February 27.
The GAB also encouraged that persons use private security when conducting important transactions.
GAB said it is deeply concerned about the escalating incidence of persons being targeted after conducting financial transactions at commercial banks.
The Association condemned these incidents and assured customers and the public they are working with the relevant authorities and internally with all member banks with a view to arresting this trend.