Crime Headline — 26 August 2014 — by Albert J. Ciego
Heritage Bank jacked 40 grand!

BELIZE CITY—The Heritage International Bank and Trust Ltd., located at the corner of Barrack Road and Craig Street, was held up this morning at about 9:30 by two brazen thieves, who got away with over $40,000 in Belize and US currency.

Police said that the bank was robbed at gunpoint by two men of dark complexion, who then fled in a waiting grey/silver Dodge van that was parked on Craig Street.

At about 10:00 a.m., the van was located abandoned on Santa Barbara Street.

Fast work by police has led to the arrest of one suspect, but the second robber is still on the run.

Inspector Santiago Ciau, the lead investigator of Precinct 3 Police Crimes Investigation, said that two men went into the bank and asked for a cashier and walked to the area where a cashier was, but as she was about to come out to see who was asking for her, one of the men was already in the office, and he went to where her desk was, opened her drawer and took out two cash pans containing money, and walked out of the office.

When the cashier ran behind him, protesting his actions, the man took out a gun and pointed it at her and told her that it was a robbery.

The second thief, at that time, was holding the security guard at gunpoint. As his accomplice came out with the cash pans, the other thief grabbed the security guard and hit him in the head with the gun three times. He then ordered him to lie down on the floor.Inspector-Santiago-Ciau

The two robbers then ran out of the bank, but the security guard got up and ran out of the bank after the robbers, who went into Craig Street. He said he saw them get into a van, which drove away.

Police were quickly alerted and the guard gave a description of the getaway vehicle, after which the guard was taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Inspector Ciau said that they immediately went to the Majestic Alley area to look for the suspects, after which they went to Santa Barbara Street in the Lake Independence area, where they found the van abandoned.

Ciau said that the bank is not a commercial bank, but an offshore bank, and one must have knowledge of where things are kept, and where to go. The robbers, he said, went straight into the back area, where the money, which is usually not stored in the bank in large amounts, is kept.

The veteran investigator said that the robbery case will be solved shortly, because individuals with information are cooperating.

A security officer of the bank told Amandala that he was at his post this morning when a man approached him and told him to call 911, because the bank was being robbed.

He said that he looked in the area, but saw no signs of a robbery, but he still called 911, and called his boss and reported that the bank was being robbed. He then checked around the bank, and that was when he was told that two men had run out of the bank and down Craig Street, and had gotten into a van and escaped.

The officer said that the bank is very rigorous in its hiring processes, and background checks are made to ensure that its employees do not have a criminal history. He became concerned, he said, when the security guard posted by the door reported that he had been beaten in the head with a gun by one of the robbers. He wondered whether the security guard had turned his back on the thieves, which was hard to comprehend if he was alert at his post, said the officer.

He feels strongly that there was inside collusion. He said that he and his fellow security guard have a combined total of 23 years working at the bank, without any robbery of the bank taking place within that period.

Since Heritage International Bank and Trust Ltd. is not a commercial bank, it only stores an average of $2,000 to $3,000 a day, and typically, large sums of money are not held there. The security guard was more than surprised to learn that $40,000 was in the bank that day, which is the same day it was robbed.

No shots were fired in the course of the robbery, and no one was hurt besides the security guard who was beaten in the head.

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