(Trinidad Guardian) Police were last night questioning seven people in relation to a multi-million dollar robbery at the Piarco International Airport yesterday morning.
The well planned and orchestrated hit targeted a First Citizens’ bank load of $5.5 million which was being sent to Tobago via Caribbean Airlines, and took place mere metres away from the Piarco Police Station.
Police said the bandits struck at 11.25 am at the cargo loading area along the Golden Grove Road, Piarco, as the money was being transferred from an Amalgamated Security vehicle to be loaded onto a plane. An airport security reportedly stopped the Amalgamated officers from completing the loading process onto a cargo bin due to a security concern. This period allowed four masked men armed with high-powered rifles and dressed in army fatigue to exit a heavily tinted Toyota Hilux pick-up, licensed TDN7020, and order those around onto the ground. The gunmen then loaded the cash onto the pick-up, which was parked on the compound before the Amalgamated van arrived, and escaped with the loot.
The getaway vehicle was later found parked at Building 1A, Oropune Gardens, Piarco, about an hour after the incident – meaning it would have passed by the police station on its way there. Residents said the lone occupant at the time left the vehicle on and the door slightly opened and escaped in a waiting car. By then, the money had already been removed from the vehicle. Residents said after noticing the engine was left on they contacted the police, who responded.
Police said on hearing of the robbery, officers of the Central Division conducted road blocks but were unable to apprehend the culprits.
Police said it appeared the culprits had some knowledge of the security mechanisms in place for the cash cargo.
A media release from the Airports Authority of T&T yesterday confirmed the robbery, adding officials were working with police to solve the crime.
In a release yesterday, FCB head of Brand and Marketing Larry Olton confirmed the bandits hit just as the money was being transferred from the security of the armoured vehicle to the Airports Authority personnel to be loaded onto the plane.
Also commenting on the incident, First Citizens Group CEO Karen Darbasie said: “The incidences of crime appears to be on the rise, and has indeed reached alarming levels. Too often now we are seeing what appears to be planned and organised criminal activity, targeting businesses, including banks. This last incident seems to be no exception. This calls for greater vigilance on the part of businesses, the TTPS and all stakeholders, and First Citizens is taking further steps to ensure the safety of our people, our customers and their assets, under the circumstances and in this current environment.”