Inside job eyed in Robinsons mall heist

by Dharel Placido & David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 30 2012 08:10 PM | Updated as of Mar 31 2012 04:14 AM

Composite illustration of another suspect in Robinsons Galleria robbery yesterday (released by PNP) Computerized facial composite of one of 6 suspects in Robinsons Galleria robbery (released by PNP)

Artist's sketches of 2 robbers out

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The police on Friday said it is studying the possibility that yesterday’s robbery inside Robinsons Galleria mall was an inside job.

Police, meanwhile, released artist’s sketches of 2 of the 6 suspects involved in the robbery. The 2 appear to be between the ages of 20 and 25.

Quezon City Police District (QCPD) chief Superintendent Mario dela Vega said they are studying the possible involvement in yesterday’s heist of individuals privy to the security measures of the mall.

He said the perpetrators also seemed to know the schedule of visits of Security Bank tellers who delivered the money to the mall.

“We are looking into that angle na may possibility na inside job din yan. And we are trying to have findings for that,” Dela Vega told ANC’s Headstart.

The police official said at least 6 suspects carried out the daring robbery, 3 of whom carried firearms into the mall.

“Tingin namin gumamit ng decoy para maka-penetrate. Nakapag palusot sila ng firearms, baka di masyado na inspect,” he said.

Robinsons Land corporate PR manager Roseann Coscolluela-Villegas earlier said the mall was still closed when the suspects "forcibly entered the mall" before 10 a.m. and went to the mall’s first level to rob Security Bank roving tellers who were delivering money to Sanry’s Money Changer.

A security guard, identified as Rodrigo Villa, was killed in the shootout. Another guard, Roderick Reloso, is now in stable condition after undergoing treatment for gunshot wounds.

Bank tellers Vincent Mangatura and Lea del Mundo, and 3 bystanders were injured after one of the robbers threw a grenade inside the mall.

Villegas said the incident happened quickly, in about 3-5 minutes. She denied that there was a security lapse in the mall, saying that all mall guards ensure that people entering the mall are not carrying firearms.

Gunmen, grenade-thrower, lookouts

Dela Vega said 3 of the robbers shot at security guards after seizing the money from the roving teller.

He said another suspect was assigned to throw grenades to create a distraction. Only one of the grenades exploded while the second one was defused later.

“Yung grenade thrower nasa labas, kasi sa CCTV makikita yung usok sa may exit. Palabas pa lang yung 3 sa loob,” the police official said.

He said at least 2 more people allegedly served as lookouts.

The suspects then fled on board 2-3 motorcycles.

The amount of money taken from the tellers has yet to be disclosed. Meanwhile, Task Force Villa has been formed to resolve the case.

Targeting malls

He added that they are also looking into the possibility that the robbers were also behind the robbery in Alabang Town Center last month and Robinsons Dasmariñas last year.

At least 1 suspect who hailed from Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental was killed in the Alabang Town Center robbery.

“The Ozamis group is one of the things being eyed and considered but we are looking into other groups who might have perpetrated the crime,” he said.

Dela Vega said the group could be a remnant of former criminal groups such as the Kuratong Baleleng, or new recruits of old crime gangs. He also said the groups could be targeting money changers as test missions.

The police official said they are still profiling the suspects but admitted that they could be former policemen and soldiers.

“They could be retired or active or dismissed from the service… They are ready to kill. Walang tanong-tanong. When the armed security guards came, they started shooting without asking anything and grabbed the bag to escape,” he said.

Cops too slow?

Dela Vega said police were able to respond quickly to the crime scene but were initially disallowed from entering the mall.

He said they are studying offering a reward for the capture of the suspects.

“We might consider the recommending of that (reward) to our PNP chief (General Nicanor Bartolome) if it is warranted para matulungan kami mapabilisan ang resolution nitong case na ito."

Philippine National police chief Nicanor Bartolome said he has not imposed a deadline on the heist probe since he does not want policemen to conduct their investigation hastily. - with a report from Johnson Manabat, dzMM