ARMED bandits shot and wounded a security guard and made off with thousands of dollars worth of cigarettes during a robbery in Chaguanas yesterday morning.
However, minutes after carrying out the heist, two of the criminals were captured by police and all of the stolen cigarettes recovered in an abandoned house.
The incident happened around 8.30 a.m. while two Marketing and Distribution (M&D) salesmen and a security officer were conducting sales at a businessplace in Enterprise, near Africa Ground, police said.
Investigators said while the men were at the business establishment, three bandits approached and demanded that the driver hand over the keys to the pick-up, which was filled with cigarettes.
The driver initially hesitated to hand over the keys and as the guard was about to draw his firearm, he was shot close to the right ear, with the bullet exiting through his face, police reported.
The guard was also relieved of his firearm before the bandits escaped with the vehicle.
The guard has since been identified as Sean Sydney of Moruga. He has been employed with Security Escort Services Ltd for the past 24 years, according to company officials.
Up to press time last night, he was said to be in a stable condition at Port of Spain General Hospital.
Shortly after the robbery, a party of officers from the Central Division Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Task Force, and Canine Unit, led by Snr Supt Deodath Dulalchan, Supt Johnny Abraham and Insp Wayne Lawrence, launched a manhunt and arrested two suspects.
Police said the men were seen off-loading the cigarettes in an abandoned house along Nannan Trace off Lawrence Wong Road in Longdenville. Upon spotting the officers, one of the men sped away in the stolen vehicle, while the other two ran into some bushes and were held.
The stolen vehicle was later found abandoned close to where the bandits were arrested.
Contacted yesterday evening, human resource manager with the security company, Beverly Williams, said Sydney was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) in Mt Hope and later transferred to Port of Spain General Hospital.
She said he was "in good spirits and resting comfortably".
Managing director at WITCO, Jean Pierre Du Coudray, told the Express that despite Sydney being shot, it was comforting news to know that his condition was not life-threatening.
Questioned on the issue of safety of workers when making deliveries in certain areas, Du Coudray said he wanted to place on record that it was not a vehicle belonging to WITCO that was held up, but one belonging to Marketing and Distribution Company Ltd.
He said WITCO does not carry out deliveries on its own and that contractors are hired to make deliveries "and Marketing and Distribution are the ones who deliver for us in Chaguanas".
Du Coudray said WITCO assists in having GPS tracking systems placed in all vehicles used for the delivery of products but, ultimately, it was those companies that are hired to make the deliveries to decide what else can be done to protect workers.
"And it was the GPS system that assisted the police in recovering the vehicle and arresting the suspects in such a short space of time. That was excellent work by the police. Two thumbs up for them for the great job they did," said Du Coudray.