General — 28 February 2014 — by Albert J. Ciego
Corozal Free Zone heist; over $208,000 stolen

Police are looking for two thieves who, armed with a knife and a hammer, held up and robbed a Mexican businessman in the Corozal Free Zone, stealing over $1,250,000 pesos, or BZ$208,000.

Ricardo Villasenior, 48, of Las Flores Manzana 23, Quintana Roo, Mexico, told police that at about 10:00 Tuesday morning he was at the loading area at the rear of the North American Store in the Corozal Free Zone, taking out two bags of money out of his car trunk to take into the store to pay for purchases when two men came up behind him.

One of them was armed with a knife, and the other with a hammer, Villasenior told police. The man with the knife put the weapon to his side, while the man with the hammer stood ready to bash in his skull, he said. According to Villasenior, the knifeman ordered him to give them the money, or else he would be killed.

Villasenior reported that he became fearful and he allowed the thieves to take the two bags of money, which had a combined total of $1,250.000 pesos.

After robbing Villasenior, the thieves put him inside the trunk of his car, where they further searched him and stole his red Alcatel cellular phone valued at $200, along with $800 pesos, the equivalent of $133.33, which, added to the money in the bags that had been taken, amounted to a total of $208,333.33 that was stolen from the businessman.

The thieves then escaped into the surrounding area of the Free Zone.

Villasenior managed to open his car trunk after about an hour, and immediately raised the alarm and went to the police, where he made a formal report, at about 11:00 a.m.

Police said that Ricardo Villasenior reported that his car was parked about 50 feet away from the store in the compound, and that two Creole men approached him. Villasenior said that both assailants were about 5 ft. 8 inches tall, and both wore short pants of an indistinct colour. He described one of the men as having a large nose and an Afro hair style, and said that he was wearing a cap. The other robber, he said, had a “flat” nose, was wearing an earring on each ear, and had a gold insert in the center of his upper teeth.

Villasenior said that it was the man with the Afro who put a knife to his right side and said in Spanish, “Dame el dinero sino te mato,” meaning, “Give me the money or else I will kill you”.

The other robber is the one who threatened him with the hammer, Villasenior told police.

After the alarm was raised, the security mechanism of the Free Zone was activated, and an intense search was conducted for the two thieves, but they had already escaped.

Assistant Superintendent Andrew Ramirez, Commander, of the Corozal police, says that he believes that the robbers exited the Free Zone through the Rio Hondo River, and then into sea. He also believes that there was inside collaboration from within the Zone to carry out the robbery, and that someone who knows the businessman had identified him and the timing of his routine so that the two robbers could execute the robbery.

He also believes that the collaborator or collaborators helped the thieves to enter the Zone prior to the robbery, and to exit the area after the heist.

ASP Ramirez also said that there are video surveillance cameras at the rear of the building, and the police are studying the footage.

A security guard who worked in the area in front of the store told Amandala that they were not aware of the robbery until the police came.

The North American Store deals in apparel and sells wholesale and retail. When conducting wholesale purchases, a customer pays at the cashier in the front and the merchandize is loaded at the rear at the loading bay.

There is also parking in the rear of the store for customers who come to do large purchases. Customers drive into the area through the rear, park their vehicle, then walk to the front through an alley to go into the store, after which they walk back to the rear and load the purchases at the loading bay.

The area provides opportunities for criminals to pounce on unsuspecting shoppers, because it is rather isolated. The only access to the rear of the store is through the alley. The compound is fenced, and behind the compound is the main road, which is heavily trafficked.

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