By AZARD ALI Wednesday, September 26 2012
A DARING early-morning heist of $1.2 million stunned commuters in Gasparillo yesterday as two men pointed guns at two guards in a Sentinel security van on a major road and made off with bags of cash.
Three hours after the robbery during peak morning traffic, officers of the Southern Division Task Force got a lead and went in hot pursuit of suspects who were spotted driving a silver Nissan Sylphy car along the north-bound lane of the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway.
By 12.30 pm, the task force officers escorted three men into Gasparillo Police Station, while the Sentinel security guards were inside giving a report of the hold-up, a scene that unfolded as if it was an action movie.
At about 9.30 am, Sentinel security officers Kenrick Addhin and Sookdeo Dhaniram had collected a substantial amount of cash from businesses in Gasparillo, including the National Petroleum gas station and Quik Shoppe opposite the Gasparillo Police Station, to be taken to a bank. The money amounted to $1.2 million.
Addhin, 59, an estate police inspector, was driving the Sentinel panel van while Dhaniram, 58, an estate police sergeant, was in the front seat. Both men, with 38 and 37 years experience as security officers, were armed with service revolvers.
It is reported that Addhin was driving through crawling traffic when he passed the police station and, 50 metres away, approached the Gasparillo Junction to proceed onto the south-bound lane of the highway.
When the security van came to a stop, because of the heavy traffic, two men got out of a car that was two cars ahead of the van.
The men, who wore no masks, approached the security van and pointed guns at Addhin and Dhaniram, on either side of the wound-up glass windows.
The security van was not an armoured vehicle.
Motorists, vendors and pedestrians looked on in shock, as the gunmen shoved Addhin and Dhaniram out of the van onto the road. Addhin fell and injured his hand. The gun men grabbed the security officers’ revolvers, jumped into the security van, overtook the line of traffic, broke the red light, turned right into Charles Street and sped off.
A vendor who witnessed the robbery told Newsday, “I just see the security men...it look like they jump out the van, but is push they (the gunmen) push them out. Everybody see, because it had traffic for so.”
The police were notified, and Southern Task Force officers began combing the Gasparillo area, while Addhin and Dhaniram were taken to the station to submit a report.
While they were giving an account of what happened, the task force officers intercepted a silver Sylphy car, near a tunnel just off Charles Street. Investigators believe it was the car that the two gunmen got out of to rob the security van.
Inside the intercepted car were three men, who police described as acting suspiciously.
Officers then proceeded along the north-bound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway where they found the Sentinel panel van parked in the vicinity of St Margaret’s Village, Claxton Bay.
The lock on the van’s back door was shot open but when the officers checked, the money bags containing $1.2 million were gone. Investigators believe the two gunmen who robbed the guards transferred the money bags into a larger bag and handed them over to accomplices in the car they got out from.
The money remains missing. The task force officers who responded were PCs Gerald, Cupid, WPS Toress and Maxwell. ASPs Zamsheed Mohammed and Yusuff Gaffar are leading the investigations.
Yesterday’s robbery occurred while police investigators were still on the hunt for the men who, on July 19, robbed two Sentinel security guards of $202,743 at Reid Extension Road, Point Fortin. The guards were also relieved of a revolver. And on August 7, guards were held up outside the ATM machine of Scotiabank, at Craignish Village, Princes Town, and robbed of $500,000 in cash.