New House

ABANDONED: The family's new home in San Francique

Armed with a blow torch, a gang of “professional thieves” broke into the home of a Penal family and robbed them of thousands in cash and valuables early Tuesday.

The thieves were “organised” in their approach to the robbery, with one being the mastermind and another whose only job was to wipe away fingerprints.

The attack happened at Gayah Trace, San Francique, at a home still under construction owned by a 40-year-old man, his 32-year-old wife, and two children, aged eight and two years.

The man is employed as a salesman and the woman is a housewife.

While they were not physically harmed, the 30-minute ordeal has left the family traumatised and they have packed their belongings and left their new home.

“Imagine sleeping in the dead of night and you hear a banging on your door and people shouting ‘we coming in!’ This is a different level of crime,” the woman said.

It is believed that one of four men scaled the wall and unlocked a gate at the back of the house, through which three other thieves entered the premises.

Another man waited in the getaway car parked nearby.

Using a blow torch, the thieves cut through another metal door and burglar proofing, and entered the house.

It was around 3.30 a.m. when the family was awakened by the banging on the bedroom door on the ground floor of their home.

The woman said four thieves, wearing hats, faces covered with bandanas, and armed with guns and cutlasses, burst through the door.

Using duct tape, the thieves bound the couple’s hands, feet and covered their mouths.

The children awoke and cried as their parents were held accosted by the thieves.

The woman said that it appeared that the thieves had co-ordinated their approach in the robbery.

“They were very professional and they knew what they were doing. One was talking on a cell phone the whole time, and telling the others what to do and to ‘hurry up’. While one person was pulling out the drawers and grabbing things, another man was wiping away the fingerprints the others were leaving,” she told the Express.

The woman said her husband and sons were left in the bedroom and two of the thieves took her through each room of the house to show where the valuables were kept.

They packed up a quantity of US and local currency, household items, the couple’s wallets, jewelry, and appliances.

However, the thieves did not get time to pack all of the loot as one of the neighbours realised that a robbery was in progress and turned the lights on in his house.

“The dogs were constantly barking and apparently one of the neighbours switched on his lights. He called the police. The bandits then hurried up and left before the police came,” she said.

She said that several bottles of alcohol were left behind by the thieves.

The thieves escaped through the way they entered and drove away in the waiting vehicle.

The woman said that the tape on her mouth became loose and she tried to bite the duct tape off her hands.

“My older boy was so traumatised. He was crying and told me don’t bite it off because ‘they coming back’. He was so scared, he did not want to move because he thought the bandits were coming back,” she said.

“We left the house a few hours later and my older son doesn’t want to go back. He has not slept since the incident. I might have to get counselling for him. The baby is oblivious to what happened. We will not be returning to our home anytime soon,” she said.

Ag Cpl Gocool, and WPCs Frederick, Blaize and Mohammed responded but no one was arrested.

Police were unable to obtain a “workable” fingerprint from the crime scene, not even on the bottles of alcohol that were left behind.

Residents said the community had been targeted by criminals and within the last two years almost every house had fallen victim to thieves.

The couple’s next-door neighbour said that two years ago her husband was tied up and robbed in their house by criminals who attacked him at noon after he returned from shopping.

Other residents have had their poultry and vegetables stolen.

“This area was mainly agricultural land, for rice and sugar cane planting, but now things have changed and it is a residential community. But as fast as we build a house, people being attacked by bandits. They taking anything they get their hands on, from your ducks to your vegetables to your money,” a resident said.