A Castries businessman is calling on the public to help him identify one of three thieves who broke into his establishment earlier this week.
A surveillance camera inside the building snapped a photo of one of the thieves while attempting to damage the device.
Benedict Ochilly, proprietor of Ochi’s Hideaway Restaurant and Bar on Jeremie Street, told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an exclusive interview today (July 18) that the business place was closed at 11:15 p.m. on Monday, July 14 and the thieves broke in sometime between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Tuesday, July 15.
The thieves entered the establishment through the roof of the “open section” of the business where the pool board is located.
The culprits then broke a window to enter the second section of the building where 17 video lottery terminals (VLT) are located.
But they were just getting started. They were also able to force open the metal “burglar bar door” to the bar area, where they stole all the beverages. They also took the security TV monitor.
During the episode, the thieves realised that the four cameras were in the building and proceeded to destroy them.
However, one of the thieves weren’t so smart, as while the others used their shirts to hide their faces, he destroyed the camera in the VLT room without being masked.
The video was able to snap his pic before it went out.
Ochilly said the damages and loss of items have so far exceeded $5,000.
The bewildered businessman said this is the third time his business has been hit by criminals.
Early last year (around January), Ochilly said three men were involved in the armed robbery of his business shortly after it opened. At that time, a knife-wielding man – with two others on the lookout – entered the business and threatened the only employee present. The employee, who was slashed on her hand, willingly handed over about $1,000 in cash while begging for her life. Two other customers who were using the gaming machines ran for their safety.
The thieves struck again, about seven months later (in July 2013), when they broke into the business, stole all the drinks, damaged the cameras and made off with the recorder.
Ochilly said he is disappointed with how the police is handling the investigations. He said though the lawmen came and took statements, they never returned.
Ochilly said in the last two break-ins, the police told him that the investigator assigned to the cases will give him a call. He said no one has called him to this day.
The frustrated businessman also claimed that his application for a licensed firearm was denied. He claimed that he wrote to the commissioner of police on at least two occasions, and even met with the top cop, pleading for his application to be successfully reviewed. This has proven futile.
He alleged that the commissioner has not given him a clear reason as to why he is being denied a licensed firearm, despite the fact that his business has been the target of an armed robbery and two break-ins.
According to Ochilly, the commissioner advised him to hire a security guard – an expense the businessman said he is unable to afford at this time. Other policemen have told Ochilly that he has enough valid reasons to be granted a firearm license.
Ochilly said he has also been threatened. He said he had refused to serve “certain characters” and they threatened him, saying “I know where you park.”
“I have nothing to protect myself,” said the frustrated businessman who plans to write to the police commissioner again or call on the national security minister concerning his firearm license.