Bicycle bandits strike thrice on Sunday night
Police too slow, victims lament
Wednesday, February 25th 2004
Two armed bandits operating out of Buxton on Sunday night robbed two households in neighbouring Annandale and Lusignan as well as a minibus, which was carrying a policeman at the time.
The bandits, who rode bicycles, rammed a gun into the mouth of one of the victims. Up to yesterday, the police say they were still searching for the two men who have been identified as two prime suspects in a number of robberies along the East Coast.
The rampage began around 11 pm at Annandale south, when the two knocked at the door of Kaloutie Persaud. Persaud said she was in bed at the time and waited to hear if the person(s) at the door would reveal their identity.
She said they did not. But they knocked again, and then called out: "Leslie! Leslie! Come and collect your son." Leslie is the name of the woman's husband.
Persaud told Stabroek News that her husband got up and opened the door to receive his son only to see a gun pointed at him. A second man then barged into the house and accosted Persaud, placing a gun also to her head.
According to the woman, she remained silent as the men placed her husband to sit and demanded that he hand over all their cash and jewellery.
Persaud said her husband told the men that he had no money but once he said so, one of them rammed the gun in his mouth saying, "you bettas get before a blow your head off."
Persaud told this newspaper she became terrified and asked to be excused and surrendered $42,260 to the bandits. Persaud said the men made good their escape through the back of the village discharging two rounds in the air and headed for the embankment.
Persaud said it was the first time she was robbed in the area and commended the police for their quick reaction. She however bemoaned their inability to capture the men.
Route 44 minibus
Not satisfied with their loot, the bicycle bandits turned their attention to a route 44 minibus around 11.30 pm, robbing a police officer and several other passengers when the vehicle stopped to pick them up.
Stabroek News was unable to locate the driver of the minibus yesterday, but reports out of the Vigilance Police Station said the policeman was robbed of some $20,000 in cash and a cellular phone. Other passengers of the minibus were stripped of their gold jewellery and cash.
Giving an account of the incident as was related to him, a police officer said the policeman and his girlfriend joined the minibus at Golden Grove, ECD.
When the minibus was about to pass Church of God Road in Buxton, a man hailed it, and when the vehicle stopped two other bandits surrounded it.
The driver was held at gunpoint and his accomplices proceeded to rob the passengers. After they finished they walked calmly into the village, while urging the driver to carry on. The police were again too slow for the criminals.
At about 11.50 pm, the same men, riding on their bicycles, entered the Lusignan squatting area through the back and robbed Lunadat Singh and his family of some $160,000 in cash and jewellery.
Singh told Stabroek News yesterday that it was not the first time he was attacked, adding that last year two men robbed his home in broad daylight.
He said he and his wife had retired to bed only to be awakened by his barking dogs and loud banging on his side window.
According to the man, he peered through a hole in his wall and saw a police mobile patrol arresting a man. Singh said not long after the police drove away, the bandits crawled into the home, and on entering one of them placed him to lie face down with a gun pointing at him.
The man's wife awakened in time to see them gun-butt her husband while demanding that he hand over all money and jewellery.
"I told dem me ain't get no money because I am a poor minibus driver, but one ah dem said, 'Don't worry with he if we can't get money we gon kill him dead and let his wife mine de children,'" Singh said.
Once these words were uttered, Singh's wife handed over $60,000 in cash to the men and surrendered a quantity of gold jewellery.
The police arrived on the scene about five minutes after the men fled, but when they were told where the men were headed, one officer promised the family they would return after reporting the matter to base. They never showed up and it took a phone call to the Vigilance station to bring officers back to the scene.
Singh bemoaned the police's response, saying that had they chased after the men when they were told, the bandits would have been caught.
Yesterday this newspaper observed some police patrols along the Buxton Embank-ment and on the public road.
Robbery in the villages of Annandale, Lusignan, Vigi-lance and Coldingen had become the order of the day when five men escaped from the Camp Street Prison on February 23, 2002. Since then residents of these villages have been made to suffer at the hands of marauding gangs. Despite several pro-mises of stepped-up security in the villages the bandits have still been able to carry out their acts