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Gunmen make off with Western Union cash

Gunmen make off with Western Union cash


Following a daring robbery of over $169,000 at Western Union last Saturday morning, opinions differ between the Commissioner of Police (COP) and Guardsman SVG Limited officials as to what could have been done to prevent it.{{more}}

While Guardsman officials are upset that efforts to get more firearm licenses have been moving at a snail’s pace at the COP’s office, COP Keith Miller said that more guns is not the answer.

Miller said that financial institutions must put elementary systems in place to better their security and help the police. He said that he has already spoken with some businessmen and plans to meet with financial institutions to discuss the matter.

“People need to do elementary things to secure their workers and to help the police trail the criminals, instead of increasing risks to the workers and the public,” Miller said.

But the locally-based Jamaican Operations Manager of Guardsman, Denval Spence, says that places like Western Union should have armed guards.

An upset Spence told SEARCHLIGHT that his company applied since last April for more firearm licenses but has been given the runaround by police.

Spence said that any would-be bandit knows that the guards are not armed, making the outlet and other such financial institutions ‘a piece of cake’ to rob.

“Since we applied for the additional license, we have been checking and checking, but nothing from the police,” Spence said.

He said, however, that last Thursday they got word from the Commissioner’s office that the candidates for firearm licenses must be given a psychological evaluation.

Spence told SEARCHLIGHT that his company is curious as to why it took almost a year to get this response.

Spence further claims that police sources had asked that Guardsman beef up their security because intelligence suggested that a robbery plan was being hatched.

But COP Keith Miller says he doesn’t know of any such intelligence.

Reports are that at 7:30 a.m., the Guardsman armored truck delivered the money for the day’s operation. Shortly after, one man came up to the door and said that he was an electrician who was to do some work at the premises.

A call to the manager confirmed that no such work was scheduled.

When the employee returned to tell this to the man, he and his accomplice forced their way into the building and demanded the money.

The men were not wearing masks and as easy as that, walked out with the two bags of money, jumped into what one eye witness described as a brownish car bearing the number plate PP248.

Police later confirmed this to be a bogus plate.

The lone security officer on duty, along with Western Union’s four employees, was Rose Yvonne Fraser.

The mother of three said that she just stood still during the terrifying encounter.

“All I was wondering is if I will see my children (again),” Fraser said, as she spoke to SEARCHLIGHT about an hour after the robbery.

Fraser was unarmed.

Scores of customers were greeted with the news as they were informed that the business would be closed for the day. Customers were redirected to Western Union branches in Barrouallie, Mesopotamia and Calliaqua.

Several eyewitnesses witnessed the unfolding of the robbery, and one lady claimed that she tried unsuccessfully to reach the Kingstown police, and after several attempts, called the Calliaqua police, who then got in contact with Kingstown.

At press time no one had been held in this matter.

This is the second time this year that a Western Union money transfer outlet in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been robbed.

In January, Joan Davis, General Manager of Western Union, in Bequia, was robbed at gun and knife point of some $15,000.

Four persons, including a woman, have been charged in connection with that offence.