POLICE have identified the three suspects who allegedly ransacked a jewelry shop inside a department store in Iloilo City.
Based on closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage, the robbers were identified as Kenneth Doyodoy, Madred Batnag and Angelo Cariaga alias Marvin Kasoy Tawanga, all natives of Mountain Province in Luzon.
While they cannot be considered as big-time robbers, the three are not new to burglary. They are allegedly subjects of arrest warrants issued in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
They were positively identified by the management of City Corporate Inn where they stayed before staging the heist.
Senior Superintendent Henry Biñas, Iloilo City police chief, said the robbery was reported to the police at around 7 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2018.
The management of Aljun Jewelry Store, one of the tenants of Gaisano Department Store on corner Rizal and Guanco Streets, City Proper district, declared that they lost P10 million worth of jewelry and P70,000 cash.
Biñas said the robbers checked in at City Corporate Inn, a hotel adjacent to the department store, on Feb. 18.
The hotel receptionist claimed that a Tagalog-speaking man, who was later identified as Cariaga, booked a room for four persons.
He claimed to be from Cagayan de Oro City.
Cariaga paid for a one-week stay but they went out of the hotel 5 a.m. Saturday and never returned.
In several instances, the three suspects took their meal at a carinderia or eatery in nearby Mapa Street.
The carinderia’s closed circuit television (CCTV) captured the faces of the three suspects.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Jonathan Pablito, newly-designated Iloilo City Police Station 1 chief, believed that the suspects had an insider at Gaisano who is familiar with the building’s layout.
The suspects initially tried to gain access to the shopping establishment from their hotel room on the second floor.
“They tried to drill a hole but they couldn’t get through with the plan,” Pablito said.
The hole was concealed with a white cartolina to avoid arousing suspicion from the management.
They then went up to the hotel’s fifth floor and jumped to Gaisano’s rooftop. They cut the roof’s galvanized iron sheet, lashed a rope and made their way to the store’s fourth floor.
“Alam nila kung saang banda sila papasok. They knew the lay-out of the building,” Pablito said.
It is believed that the suspects carried out the burglary late evening of Feb 23 or early Saturday morning.
They then went to Aljun Jewelry Store and took the portable vault where the jewelry and cash were kept.
The jewelry shop is the first store near the entrance to the mall. They brought the vault to the back portion of the grocery section and dismantled it using an ax and an iron bar which were recovered from their hotel room.
Investigators were able to lift latent fingerprints from the room and the items.
Pablito said he asked the management of the Gaisano store to check on their employees who might have connived with the suspects.
The investigation also indicated that CCTV cameras of Aljun Jewelry Store and Gaisano Store are turned off at night time.
“So, parang alam ng nga suspects na patay ‘yung CCTV. They also knew that some parts of the store are undergoing renovation,” Pablito said.
Police are also pressing Gaisano to ask for proof from Aljun jewelry Store for the P10-million loss.
“And to think that they don’t have their own security guard, their store was located at the entrance, and their vault was substandard,” Pablito said.
One of the suspects, who was reached by a police officer who posed as a hotel staff, claimed they were no longer returning to the hotel.
They were allegedly headed to Antique province.
But a check revealed that the location of the cellphone user was in Balamban, Cebu.
Pablito said the investigation is still going on and coordination is being made to check similar jewelry store burglaries in other parts of the country.
“We’re coordinating with our counterparts in other parts of the country where similar incidents happened,” he added.
Meanwhile, the jewelry store owned by 32-year old Chinese Langlin Hu assured that they would honor their agreement with customers who availed of law-away plans.
Their clients could coordinate with their other two branches in La Paz, Iloilo City and in Oton, Iloilo.