By Dave S. Albarado
TAGBILARAN CITY – A new crime wave had struck the city anew after the discovery of thieves from Davao victimizing unsuspecting Tagbilaranons who lost their hard-earned valuables in at least two incidents this week.
The intrusion of the city outsiders committing pickpocket has caused alarm among city residents that another gang might have set up a foothold here. With the revelation, a Bohol Tribune source said it is possible the gang originating from outside of the province may have been operating for a long time, but no one may have the courage to file charges.
The same source said: it is possible some victims chose to remain silent, thus pushing the crime operations of gangs hailing from other places under the radar of the police.
It is possible the crime syndicate may specialize in picking the pockets of unsuspecting mall shoppers, and eventually erode the trust of the public to come and enjoy the mall experience or to do some grocery shopping elsewhere.
One of the arrested pickpocket suspects hails from Davao, prompting some observers the gang may not be originally from the city, but a bunch of outsiders trying to victimize Boholanos and disrupt the peace and order here.
Boholanos normally let their guard down in a trusted area knowing with all the security installed, a crime such as pickpocketing is very unlikely to happen.
However, last Thursday, in separate incidents, the criminal gang took advantage of the situation and carted away valuables stolen from the bags of the victims.
As this developed, Tagbilaran police are still hunting down the three other suspected pickpockets who victimized a 29-year-old woman while shopping for groceries in a local supermarket.
Residents are warned to be careful and mindful at all times, even in places where they might feel safe due to the security scattered around.
SUSPECT NABBED BY POLICE
Tagbilaran City police chief Supt. Patricio Degay Jr. told the Tribune last night the police are going after three more suspects of the pickpocket incident that happened inside a mall.
Degay said in a text message even if the three other suspects,who may be from outside of the province, remain at large, chargeswere filed against the suspects by the police.
The police report provided to the Tribune said a certain Esperidion Villapaña, 46, married, of 23-C, purok 5, Barangay Isla Verde, Davao City was arrested following a police operation.
He was arrested at JS Torralba Street, near the Landbank branch at the Old Capitol Complex.
The victim was identified in the reports as one Joseliza Lauza, 29, of A. Hontanosas Street, Barangay Poblacion 3, Tagbilaran.
According to the account of the victim, while she was busy shopping for groceries she noticed her wallet went missing. The loss prompted her to approach the security personnel of the mall to take a look at the CCTV footage captured by the security cameras of the mall.
The cameras caught images of the culprits carting away her wallet.
Her wallet contained P10,500 in cash, a PhilHealth card, Timezone card, Alturas One card and other essential documents.
The suspect is currently detained at the Tagbilaran police lock-up jail.
Meanwhile, a Facebook post caught the attention of netizens where a similar modus happened in another grocery store in the city.
The post carried two videos presumably from the CCTV footage of the shopping center.
The caption of the post by a certain Gretchen Bela asks netizens to give more information about the other cohorts involved in the pickpocket.
She is crowdsourcing some information about the suspects from concerned netizens. She hopes any piece of information can aid the police and eventually lead to the arrest of the suspects.
Degay said the suspects in the incident that happened in Alturas are the same ones that victimized the person in BQ Supermarket.
The information only bolstered the possibility of a gang has been organized and launched a well-orchestrated crime wave attack to cart away the precious possessions of Boholanos who only want to go grocery shopping.
Bela claimed she was carrying a small backpack containing all of her money, and a newly purchased phone worth P8,000.
As seen in the video, she was at the detergent soap section, when two women approached her one on each side. One of the suspects asked her to reach the top of the shelf to get an item.
She failed to realize being surrounded by two other women and three other men. The footage showed one of the suspects was opening her back and handed the stolen items to an accomplice.
The video shows there is a coordinated ploy to engage in pickpocket inside the shopping center.
Bela said one of the suspects hadbeen arrested and five more to go.
In an earlier incident, a 56-year-old man used a six-year-old child to steal a laptop inside a fast food restaurant.
Police reports identified the suspect as Eduardo Dignos, of barangay Sardana, Tubigon.
Swift action by the police prevented the suspect’s escape after allegedly committing the crime. Police intercepted the suspect at the Integrated Bus Terminal in Barangay Dao and recovered the stolen laptop from his possession.
Police said Dignos is an alleged notorious thief using the “salisi” modus operandi. It was bared several complaints have been filed against the suspect.
The investigation revealed the victim was inside the restaurant when the theft was discovered. The security force reviewed the captured footage from the closed circuit television system and revealed the perpetrator and the cohort.
It was revealed the suspect used a diversionary tactic to allow the six-year-old to cart away the victim’s laptop worth P30,000.
The police’s Women and Children Protection Desk turned over the minor to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).