$100-million hit!

JAMAICA – GUNMEN, in what appeared to be a well-organised robbery, yesterday looted a jewellery store at Premier Plaza in Kingston of cash and jewellery valued at close to $100 million.

The gunmen, in what could be mistaken as a scene being shot for a movie, moved in on the store as the owners of the store opened the doors at the start of the business day.

“At approximately 9:00 am five men barged into the store and held up the store owner and workers at gunpoint,” Det Sgt Radcliffe Levy of the Half-Way-Tree CIB said yesterday.

Sgt Levy said while the men were in the store two others remained outside on motorcycles.

Police said the men made their escape with the loot in two motor cars which were waiting nearby. No one was hurt.

A man who said he witnessed the incident said one of the gunmen was armed with what appeared to be an Uzi submachine gun — the Israeli-made weapon once favoured by bodyguards of heads of state and executives worldwide.

The eyewitness said the robbery took place metres away from where a team of private security guards was stationed.

“Is like a movie me a watch; the thief them a move organised; it was shocking,” said another man who claimed that he was doing business in a nearby store when the gunmen struck. The man also claimed one of the men had visited the store two days earlier.

“A just the other day one of the bwoy come a store. Three times him come and a ask about a fan, but it look like him did a map out the place,” he said.

The police said yesterday that they believe the robbery was linked to the illegal ‘cash for gold trade’, which has seen unlicensed persons buying gold jewellery at several locations islandwide. It is believed, according to the police, that money earned in the trade is used to purchase guns and ammunition for the criminal underworld.

Yesterday, an officer said more than 20 businesses, including jewellery stores, in Half-Way-Tree and surrounding areas have been robbed in the last six months.

In the meantime, the police have warned citizens to be vigilant as criminal activities usually increase during the approach of the Christmas season.

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