A major manhunt is underway for four bandits who yesterday went to the BWIA cargo facility inside Piarco International Airport and stole a steel vault containing $41,000.
Investigators believe the heist was the result of an 'inside job'. An internal investigation at the airport has also been launched.
According to police reports, around 4.15 am a white pick-up van with four men pulled up outside BWIA's northside cargo facility, where international and inter-island import and export work is carried out.
One of the men approached cargo facility supervisor David Oudit telling him he wanted to ship crates of lettuce to Tobago.
Oudit asked to the see the crates and was taken to the pick-up van, where he was confronted by another man who pointed a shotgun at him.
The supervisor was taken back to the cargo bay by the bandits who later overpowered a BWIA security guard and a SWAT security officer. The three men were robbed of personal items, tied up and left lying on the ground.
The bandits then broke down the door of the cashier's cage and seized a large steel vault containing $41,000 and legal documents. The vault was placed in the tray of the van.
In addition six bags containing local coins of various denominations, which were destined for commercial banks in the sister-isle, were also stolen by the bandits.
The three tied-up men were later freed by other BWIA staffers who were alerted by their shouts.
A team of officers including Snr Supt Lloyd Coutain, ASPs Gregory Correia and Errol Dillon, Ag Insp (Crime) Hubert Kirk, Sgt Alladin Karim and others visited the scene and questioned several persons.
Efforts yesterday to reach BWIA's President and CEO Conrad Aleong for comment failed. Police believe the bandits got inside information, since they knew where to find the vault and they also struck at a time when security was minimal.
An All Points Bulletin (APB) has also been issued advising police precincts to be on the lookout for the pick-up van. No arrests have been made and Sgt Alladin Karim of Piarco police is continuing investigations.
In a release, BWIA confirmed an armed robbery had occurred. The national airline said it was assisting police in the investigations.
Vice-President of Employee Services Frank Sampson, said staff affected by the robbery were being counselled. "We are just thankful there were no serious injuries," he said.
The cargo facility is a Customs controlled, publicly accessible area where BWIA and other companies have cargo offices for the public to brings goods to be shipped.
BWIA said additional security arrangements have been made and will be increased at the airport and other local company locations.
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