Well-off young men targetted hotel, said Cebu city police
Police yesterday arrested two scions in connection with a series of thefts in hotels and pension houses in Cebu City believed pulled off by car-riding guests, who would pilfer valuables without being noticed.
Eduard Teves, a 28-year-old resident of San Vicente Village, Subangdaku in Mandaue City, and 29-year-old Michael “Eric” Reyes of Macroville, barangay Camputhaw, Cebu City, were arrested in a restobar in barangay Capitol Site, Cebu City.
Two other male companions are being tracked down.
Police said charges would be filed against the arrested men for robbery, illegal possession of firearms and illegal drug possession.
The two were accused of stealing a flat-screen TV from the Allure Hotel in AS Fortuna Street, Mandaue City, where they had checked in Monday night.
Police said two .45-caliber pistols and one .357-caliber revolver were taken from the men’s possession during arrest.
Inside their Toyota Vios sedan were found four sachets of a white substance suspected to be shabu, laptops, assorted cellular phones, shoes, passports, assorted hotel room keys and ID cards of different people.
Two hours later, police recovered the Allure Hotel’s missing LCD TV, cable box and remote control from a friend of Reyes in sitio Lawis, barangay Lorega, Cebu City.
“Karon ra gyud ko naapil (I only joined this time),” Teves told police during interrogation.
He said he was scheduled to leave for the United States within the week to join his family.
“Wala na’y problem. Akong istoryahan ang tag-iya. Pasalig ko nga akong ma-recover (There’s no problem. I can talk to the owner and assure him I’ll help recover the items),” he said in an apparent bid to work out an amicable settlement.
Both arrested men are not employed, said police.
Chief Insp. Bonifacio Garciano, chief of the Investigation and Detective Management Branch of the Cebu City police, said the suspects were believed to be members of a robbery group of well-to-do young men, who would ride around in their car looking for things to steal.
“They admitted they would do this because of their vice—drugs,” said Garciano.
He said one of their companions, Chavit Tan, was already in jail.
Police said the Toyota Vios sedan that was used was previously stolen from a rent-a-car store in Makati, Metro Manila.
In a separate phone interview, Chief Insp. Romeo Santander, head of the Cebu City Intelligence Branch, said the robbery group had been operating for about three years. Police started looking into their activities after a spate of unsolved thefts in pension houses and hotels in Cebu City.
In Monday’s caper, police said Teves, Reyes and two other male companions were identified by office staffers as the ones who stole a laptop from the office of a car shop owner in barangay Labangon, Cebu City, at 6:45 p.m. last Monday.
The men were allowed into the office to wait for the owner, whom they said was a friend. They left with the boss’s P50,000 Toshiba laptop.
Reyes and Teves then checked into a P3,000-a-night suite at the Allure Hotel at 11 p.m. that night.
By the next morning, the room’s flat-screen Sanyo LCD television worth P40,000 along with a cable box and remote control were gone. The gadgets were stashed it in a white pillow case and kept in the guests’ Toyota Vios sedan parked in the hotel basement. The car’s license plate was PII 399.
Room attendant Frank Calderon discovered the missing room amenities and alerted security, but the two men were already gone. PO3 Romel Lim of the Mandaue City police’s Investigation and Detection Management Branch (IDMB) said the suspects were spotted in the hotel’s close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras but the complete license plate numbers of their car weren’t visible.
The security guard on duty jotted down the three letters of the license plate number as “PII.”
Police said they were tipped off about a car with a similar plate number that checked into another hotel last Dec. 21, where a theft occured. A hotel security guard noticed the suspects and wrote down their car’s plate number. The hotel owner reported to the police.
On noticing that they were pursued by police yesterday, Teves and Reyes stopped by a restobar in Juana Street, Cebu City. They were arrested there by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and mobile patrol.
Chief Insp. Garciano said Reyes was previously detained at the Cebu City jail for illegal drug possession in 2008 but was acquitted and released last July 2011.
Under custody yesterday, Reyes at first told police his name was “Eric” and only revealed his real name, Michael, later, said Garciano.
“We still need to check his records and his birth certificate,” the police officer said.
Garciano said Teves and Reyes were sons of well-to-do businessmen but didn’t have jobs.
Both men just laughed when police asked them who was their group leader and where were their two missing companions.
Garciano said Reyes was also suspected to be involved in the drive-by pellet gun attacks that targetted homesexual men in Cebu City last year.
One of the stolen laptops belonged to Richard Francisco Cupin, owner of JZWA Car Sales and Spa in Salvador Extension, Labangon, Cebu City.
Cupin told police that four men pretended to be customers and went to his store looking for him.
He said his employees thought that the four men were his friends and let them inside his office.
Cupin said his Toshiba laptop was taken by the men who drove off in a Toyota Vios bearing plate number PII 399.Police said Cupin later confirmed ownership of the recovered Toshiba laptop. /By Rhea Ruth V. Rosell, Jucell Marie P. Cuyos and Chito Aragon