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Armed robbers cases on the increase

by Staff reporter
04 Apr 2012 at 06:51hrs | Views
ROBBERS who steal vehicles and use them to commit armed robberies are on the prowl with five cases reported in Bulawayo and the Midlands in four days.

The robbers got away with a combined total of more than $15 000 plus four vehicles.

In Bulawayo, two armed men reportedly robbed a taxi driver of his vehicle and personal belongings before using the car in an armed robbery at a Grill Garage outlet in the city centre.

The suspects took the outlet's till which had about $1 400, in the incident which occurred on Saturday at about 9pm.

The suspects allegedly hired a taxi from Mpilo Central Hospital to North End suburb where they assaulted and overpowered the driver.

They tied him up and left him at a bushy area near the United College of Education (UCE).

They later used the taxi as a getaway car when they hit the Grill Garage outlet at the corner of Jason Moyo Street and 10th Avenue.

A source close to the investigations said the robbers got away with about $1 500 and a cellphone in both robberies.

The suspects hit the owner of the taxi until they tore off his T-shirt, which they used to tie up his hands and feet.

"They left him tied up in a bushy area near the United College of Education and used the vehicle as a getaway car when they robbed Grill Garage," said the source.

The source said one of the suspects went into the outlet which was about to close for the day and head-butted an employee who was at the door.

"The other one rushed in with a pistol and ordered everyone to lie down. He then disconnected the till and the two suspects dashed to the waiting taxi with it and sped off," said the source.

He said about $1 400 was in the till.

In the second incident, three armed men wearing balaclavas stormed into 711 Supermarket at Morningside Shopping Centre on Sunday and snatched a till which contained $1 000.

A shop assistant said the robbers burst into the shop at about 6.45pm.

"One of them slapped the girl who was assisting me at the till. When I looked up, two of them had started disconnecting the till while one of them held a gun pointed at me," said Miss Chipandwa.

She said another shop assistant, Mr Blessing Hurungwe, rushed into the shop to assist, thinking a customer was attacking his colleagues.

"They hit him in the face with a till drawer. When he fell down, they grabbed the cash register, rushed into a waiting vehicle and sped off," said Miss Chipandwa.

Police spokesperson for Bulawayo, Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo, confirmed the incidents and said police were still investigating.

"Extensive investigations are under way to identify and arrest the accused persons. The taxi that was used at Grill Garage has been recovered in the western suburbs. All suspects are still at large," said Insp Moyo.

He advised businesspeople to be always alert, especially during opening and closing times to prevent armed robberies.

Insp Moyo invited businesspeople in the city to join the Business Against Crime Forum in Bulawayo, which he said would be holding a meeting at Ross Camp today at 5pm.

"The forum offers advice on how businesspeople can protect their businesses from criminals and gives stakeholders a platform to share ideas on the subject," said Insp Moyo.

He appealed to members of the public who might have information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects to contact their nearest police station.

"They can use the police suggestion boxes if they do not want to be known. Alternatively, they can use the 24-hour Bulawayo Police Hotline (09) 885479," said Insp Moyo.

In the Midlands, police warned the motoring public, especially those who drive vehicles with central locking systems, to be on guard following two incidents in which motorists, a taxi driver and a teenage driver lost their vehicles in similar fashion to a gang of armed robbers.

Acting Midlands police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko said three separate armed robbery cases were committed following the theft of the two vehicles last week on Thursday night.

The two vehicles and cash stolen amounted to $14 330, he said.

"In the first case, two unknown male adults armed with pistols arrived at Value Chain Supermarket in the city centre situated at corner Robert Mugabe and 6th Street. They were travelling in an unregistered Honda CRV and parked it near another unregistered Honda vehicle that was being driven by Aldein Mutamiri (19), of Gweru.

"One of the two suspects disembarked and pointed a pistol at Mutamiri. The two suspects forcibly entered Mutamiri's vehicle and drove towards Kwekwe. They dumped Mutamiri near Regina Mundi High School," said Asst Insp Mahoko.

The acting Midlands police spokesperson said at about 7.15pm, on the same day, three unknown male adults hired a taxi, which was parked outside Midlands Hotel.

He said the three indicated to the taxi driver, Mr Tererai Mutetiwa (27), that they wanted to be taken to Nashville High School.

Asst Insp Mahoko said the trio produced a pistol and ordered Mr Mutetiwa off the steering wheel.

"They threatened Mr Mutetiwa and one of the suspects quickly took over the taxi and drove to Christmas Gift plots. They searched the taxi driver and took away his cash and cellphone. The suspects went on to tie his legs and stuffed his mouth with some stockings before driving away," he said.

Asst Insp Mahoko said the taxi was a Toyota Raum registration number ABS 9750 and blue in colour.

He said in the third robbery incident, the three robbery suspects, travelling in the stolen taxi, went to Mkoba Village 17 Business Centre and entered a shop.

"One of the three suspects produced a pistol, pointed at the shopkeeper and demanded cash. They were given $700 by Ms Catherine Mutasa (34), the shopkeeper, and immediately drove away," said Asst Insp Mahoko.

He said all the three cases were reported to the police and investigations were under way.

"No arrests have been made so far. The stolen Honda Logo motor vehicle was later found dumped some 20km outside Gweru. It has since been returned to the owner. We appeal to members of the public to assist us with information that may lead to the arrest of these robbers," said Asst Insp Mahoko.

He warned motorists who drive cars with central locking systems to be on high alert as the robbery syndicate appears to have discovered a way of disabling the locking system.

"I take this opportunity to warn motorists that the criminals are using a new method of beating the vehicle's central locking system. They target such vehicles and interfere with the locking process by simply pressing a button on a vehicle gate lock they move around with during the process when the driver would be operating the locking piece buttons. The vehicle will not lock but the driver will leave the car believing that it has locked. The criminals then go on to open the doors with ease and steal valuables from your vehicles. We encourage drivers whose vehicles have central locking systems to physically check if the doors would have locked before leaving the vehicle," said Asst Insp Mahoko.

Contacted for comment, police national spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said the cases were sporadic attacks.

"Police are on top of the situation. The reported incidents are isolated cases and we suspect that they are being committed by criminals who have been released from prison after serving their sentences," said Snr Asst Comm Bvudzijena.

He said police would, as usual, hunt down the criminals to preserve their high record of catching armed robbers in the country.

Source - chronicle
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