Ja-Cayman robbery ring probed

Law-enforcement agents probing last week’s heist of Rolex watches from Swiss Stores in downtown Kingston have now turned their eyes to the Cayman Islands, where a similar robbery took place and some of the expensive watches transported to Jamaica.

Police investigators believe that the perpetrators behind the theft of the watches in Jamaica are members of a highly organised group. At least 24 watches were reported stolen in Cayman, a number of which ended up in Jamaica, and the police here are working with their counterparts in Cayman to dismantle the group and end the transnational crime.

“Some of the Rolex watches that were stolen in the Cayman Islands recently are here. So we are now looking at previous jewellery-store robberies, especially those which occurred in the Montego Bay area,” head of the Flying Squad Unit, Senior Superintendent Cornwall ‘Bigga’ Ford, disclosed yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference held at the Flying Squad’s offices in downtown Kingston, the top-flight crime fighter said five suspects, including a prominent political activist of St Thomas and a Corporate Area businessman, have been arrested in connection with last week’s theft at Swiss Stores.

Initial reports are that a lone gunman walked into the store on April 10 and made off with more than $7-million worth of Rolex watches. One of the watches costs US$5,000 and upward.

“Between Tuesday and yesterday, we have recovered 13 of the 16 Rolex watches that were stolen last week, plus some Movado wristwatches. We also seized over US$150,000 and J$500,000, an illegal firearm, two licensed shotguns, with over 500 rounds of assorted ammunition,” said Ford.

Preliminary investigation has suggested that the political activist and the businessman are business partners, operating a construction company.

They were picked up following an intense operation, which took the police into sections of St Thomas, St Catherine, Barbican in St Andrew, and into the commercial district of downtown Kingston.

The Gleaner understands that the lone gunman who pulled off the robbery was also taken into custody. It is alleged that after the robbery, the watches were passed to the mastermind who, in turn, gave them to another person to be sold.

“When charges are preferred against the suspects and their names are known, I think some people mouth is going to drop,” said Ford.

The top-flight crime fighter has since invited the Financial Investigations Division, the Organised Crime Investigation Division and the Major Organisation Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force to assist with the financial aspect of the investigation.

“We are going after their assets,” said Ford, who praised his team for a job well done.

Contacted yesterday, the managing director of Swiss Stores, Ueli Bangerter, confirmed the police’s story that some of the watches stolen in the Cayman Islands are here.

“The Flying Squad police have done a fantastic job and I believe we have recovered about 80 per cent of what was stolen. We are extremely happy that we got back the items and the person responsible is caught,” said Bangerter.

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