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Oct 4, 2017

Spanish Lookout Scotia Bank and Belmopan Taximan Robbed

There was a brazen heist at the Scotia Bank Branch in Spanish Lookout, Cayo. The same branch, which was hit seven years ago, is located immediately next to the police station and is equipped with surveillance cameras as well as its own security guards.  Employees and customers were busy with transactions at around nine-thirty this morning when three armed and masked gunmen entered the bank with ease and proceeded to rob it of a yet undisclosed amount of money. But even before the robbery, the thieves held up a taxi driver at the Belmopan terminal and would dump him in the trunk of his car. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

At about nine-twenty this morning, three armed masked men entered the Scotiabank Spanish Lookout Branch and held up the assistant manager before getting away with a large sum of cash. Police say the thieves were armed with what appeared to be a shotgun and two short arms and they escaped in a maroon taxi. Despite surveillance cameras and the security guards at the establishment—not to mention the police station exactly next door to the bank—the brazen robbers still managed to carry out the heist as customers and employees conducted business.

 

Michael Shaw

Michael Shaw, Managing Director, Scotiabank Belize

“Just after our opening hours, there was a breach where armed gunmen went into our location and committed a robbery. But I want to more focus on the fact that our staff and our customers are safe; they were unharmed and that to me is the most important thing coming out of this incident. I’m not sure the number of customers, but that unit is staffed with about five persons; it is a relatively small unit. It serves the Spanish Lookout Community and it has always done fairly well. We have the appropriate, in our minds, the appropriate security in place, there are surveillance cameras in that branch, there is security guards on duty in that branch; so we would have done our own security requirements.”

 

Steven Lopez

Managing Director of the bank, Michael Shaw did not disclose the quantity of the loot, but the incident is not the first to have happened at that particular branch of the bank. Back on January thirtieth 2010, unarmed K.B.H. security officer Steven Lopez was murdered by robbers who turned their guns on him and a police officer stationed at the bank. Since then the financial institution had improved its security measures, but were still targeted.

 

Michael Shaw

“This particular unit is located in the Spanish lookout Community. To some extent it might be considered a little off the beaten path. But like I said before, we had the appropriate securities in place and there is a police post nearby. I’m not sure why it would have been targeted. It has the regular Scotiabank security that is afforded to anyone of our branches. It is just an unfortunate incident.  We will continue to be vigilant—not just at our Spanish Lookout branch, but all branches to ensure that we provide the best security possible. We will not at any point in time try to endanger our staff. Our staff is well aware if something like this happens, it’s to handover the money because the money is always replaceable; the lives of our staff and our customers are certainly not replaceable.”

 

While no customers or staffers of the bank were harmed in the frightening ordeal, the robbers disappeared near the entrance to Buena Vista Village off the Spanish Lookout Road, where the getaway vehicle was discovered by police. But the plot thickens….the bandits committed a crime prior to the heist in which an elderly taxi man was kidnapped, bound and shot.

 

This morning, sixty-two-year-old Oscar Cordon, a member of the Belmopan Taxi Owners Cooperative was approached by three Hispanic men at the terminal in that municipality. Police say he refused the fare and was then forced into the trunk of his maroon Geo Prism taxi. It is believed that the men carried out the heist and then disposed of the vehicle near Buena Vista Village and switched vehicles…but not before tying up Cordon and shooting him once to the left hand. Cordon was treated for his injuries and is currently cooperating with police in their investigation. But the ordeal for taxi men is frightening because several of its members have been killed by their passengers.

 

Carl Stamp

Carl Stamp, Treasurer, Belmopan Taxi Owners Cooperative

“The guy worked out here with we; for the last three years he’s been with the coop, but he’s been working for the last mussi about twenty years now. But I know little about it.”

 

Duane Moody

“Now sir we understand that he was taken right from here.”

 

Carl Stamp

“Well that dah weh I get fi understand yes; they catch his taxi right out here. Dah noh something where it is the first time it is happening. Ih mi happen before. One time dehn mi ker four ina one year. So we just take it as normal, work every day and no worry about it. When yo time come, yo time come.”

 

Veteran taxi operator Carl Stamp says that there is little that members can do to protect themselves because even denying someone service can cost you your life.

 

Carl Stamp

“The last time, the man weh had the gun dah the person weh deh back away. So wah gun wouldn’t be—it could be of help, but I don’t know any other way weh yo could protect yourself more than face the heat when it happen.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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1 Response for “Spanish Lookout Scotia Bank and Belmopan Taximan Robbed”

  1. Marwaione says:

    This doesn’t have to be acceptable way of life, if you pay fees, taximen should have radios to lest the base and other know there where about for situation like this.

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