Terror reigned at Massy Stores in St Ann’s yesterday, as five bandits, one armed with a gun, stormed the supermarket beating one of five workers before leaving with an undisclosed sum of US and T&T currency.
The daring early morning robbery caused the supermarket to shut its doors for the entire day to allow the police to conduct their investigations and interview the victims.
The closure left several customers angry while some stopped to ask the lone security guard stationed at the front gate if the workers were okay following the traumatic experience.
Acting Senior Superintendent of the Port-of-Spain Division Lincoln Daly confirmed the robbery to Guardian Media during a telephone interview.
Daly said around 6.20 am the robbers, whose faces were covered, entered the compound of the supermarket in a white Tiida car and barged their way into the store.
One security guard was on duty.
“It would appear that they timed it in a particular way to enter the premises … just around the time the employees would have been showing up for work and getting ready to open the business.”
On Sundays, the supermarket opens for business at 7 am and closes at 6 pm.
“One of the suspects was armed with a gun,” Daly said.
The bandits ordered five workers—three of whom were women—to lie on the ground where their hands were tied with duct tape.
Daly said one of the female workers was taken to a room where the vault is stored and ordered to open the safe.
“Based on the information we have, his employee was struck multiple times on the body and face,” he said.
Daly could not say if the employee was hit with the butt of the gun or with the bandits’ fists.
He said the assailants “took a sum of cash which was both T&T dollars and US currency.”
The senior officer could not quantify the sum involved.
The bandits also relieved one of the workers on his Samsung phone.
Questioned if the robbery was an inside job, Daly said it was too early to tell.
“So far we are unable to say if it is an inside job that took place. We have no information or evidence to suggest that at this time. This investigation is in its embryo stages and we have to wait and see where the investigation leads us,” he said.
Daly said the police are pursuing some leads but refused to divulge any details.
He said, “Basically our investigations have started … members of the Port-of-Spain CID have visited the scene. They have started to do their investigation … and people from the CSI unit have gone there to see if they gather any information and evidence. We have been looking at some of the CCTV camera footage. We are hopeful that we will get some solid evidence that will help us bring this matter to a positive conclusion.”
In the coming hours, Daly said statements will be taken from the victims.
He added: “We feel that it would be necessary for us to have further dialogue with the management of this organisation … and other business organisations throughout Port-of-Spain just to provide some further advice, direction and support in terms of how they can strengthen security arrangements at their business premises.”
Daly said this robbery was of great concern to the T&T Police Service “when persons could approach places where our general public would be utilising in their day-to-day activities and commit these types of crimes.”
Asked if Massy may have to beef up its security, Daly said he did make efforts to connect with the management of Massy but was unsuccessful, promising to reach out to them again “to see what is the best way forward.”
In 2017, this same branch was robbed of $130,000 in cash.
The bandits gained entry into the store by cutting a hole in the roof.
It was believed that a blow torch was used to open a safe from which the money was taken.
Guardian Media contacted the president and group CEO of Massy Group, Gervase Warner, regarding the robbery but he declined to comment.
Warner said the company would issue a press release on the incident but could not say when.