Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Police appeal for witnesses after violent robbery

By Brian Reyes

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) has appealed for witnesses following a violent robbery at a Bureau de Change on Main Street last Friday evening.

A young man hit the owner of the Gib Exchange Centre and pushed him to the floor while a second man ducked behind the counter and took several thousand pounds worth of Euros, Sterling and travellers’ cheques from an open safe.

Both men then ran out into Main Street and split up, one man running down College Lane and the other running up Cannon Lane.

The owner of the bureau was in shock and was treated in St Bernard’s hospital, though he sustained no serious physical injuries as a result of the assault.

Police investigating the crime have a good description of his assailant, who they believe is English and about 25 years old.

An RGP spokesman described the man as around 5’9” tall and of slim, muscular build, clean-shaven and with light brown short hair. He was wearing a white t-shirt and blue and white chequered shorts at the time of the robbery.

Details of his companion are sketchy, though forensic officers recovered some physical evidence from the crime scene that may ultimately prove useful in confirming the identities of the two men involved.

Detectives investigating the incident believe it was most likely an opportunistic crime. They have appealed for any witnesses to contact them in strict confidence at New Mole House police station.

Precedent

This is not the first time that a Main Street business has been targeted by criminals this summer. Last month, two young men stole a tray with jewellery worth £350 from a busy Main Street shop. The shop’s owner was attending to around 10 customers when the men ran in and grabbed the tray from a window showcase that was slightly open. Before he could stop them, they ran out of the shop and vanished into the crowds outside.

In the past few weeks, there has also been a failed smash-and-grab attempt at another Main Street jeweller.

Shop owners yesterday expressed concern at the number of recent incidents. But RGP officers believe that the perception is worse than the reality, particularly when it comes to violent robberies such as the one at the bureau last week.

“Robberies are high on our list of priorities,” the police spokesman said. “These offences are of great concern to us, though they are rare in Gibraltar,” he added. “We want to keep it like that.”

The latest annual report from the RGP recorded that there were seven robberies reported between April 1, 2004, and March 31 this year, of which three were ‘detected’ by the police.

While that 43% detection rate may appear low at first glance, it is in fact unusually high when compared with statistics for other police forces, for example in the UK.

Since April 1 this year, there have been three robberies reported in Gibraltar, including the one last Friday. The nature of the three crimes varied enormously, however. One of the earlier robberies involved a young man who snatched a bag containing £50,000 from his victim before making a getaway. In that incident, the money was recovered and a warrant issued for the man’s arrest.

The third incident involved a man who was pushed from behind by an unidentified assailant, who then demanded money and made off with a wallet containing a small amount of cash.

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